1) For the first time in my life, dinner last night consisted of dessert. Well, I should take that back. The first time in my responsible, boring, adult and in bed by nine every night adult life consisted of froyo. And it was a miraculous thing. I really think that that one girl from Remember Me with RPatz and Chris Cooper (oh, you didn’t see it? Yeah, not many people did. I’m just weird), had the right idea when she always ate dessert first. Life is too short. Or I’ll just find anyway I can to justify eating something sweet over something it is good for me. So responsible.
1b) And it had M&Ms on it. Cause you needed to know that.
2) There were a lot of dips consumed over SuperBowl weekend. And then, I had to consume more dips yesterday to prep for March Madness. Three dips, three wildly varying schmears to be slathered over bread and devoured unabashedly. Hence, number 1.
3) The best new photo prop or supply I bought was last weekend. It was $5 and way better than the bead board I originally went in for.
FYI Home Depot (or at least mine) won’t cut you a custom piece of beadboard out of a 4×8 foot sheet. What was I going to do with a 4×8 sheet of bead board in a one bedroom apartment and no visible wallspace to tack it up? Well, using a 2×2 section for food photos is what my intended purpose was…but no, that was squashed like a slug beneath my shoe. I take that bad. I hate slugs – it’s the no-legs thing, I’d be on the horizon by now instead.
I picked up a totes gorgeous but not so light 16×16 inch porcelain tile section for a whopping $5. That’s practically the price of a Triple Grande Soy Cinnamon Dulce Latte. You can see it in the second dip photo down below. Perfection.
4) Speaking of all those dips, I made this Roasted Tomato Brie dip about 9 months ago. Devoured it all myself, thank you. Well, I made it again and took some new photos. It’s like a before and after reality show makeover here, just less bags under your eyes and no mom jeans. But it still stands that this dips is the stuff cheese angels are made of. Like, WOAH!
Woah, right? Here’s the skinny and a bit on an honesty bomb thrown in.
We bloggers can get really bogged down with all the greatness, funness, newness, and neatoness that is photo equipment, cameras and editing software. Trust me – I’m NO different. The lusting I do over the camera section at Costco over the Canon 60D usually involves two pallet movers and an elephant. But here I made one big change – a new lens.
I’ve been using the exact same camera since before I started blogging, a Canon Rebel xSi and switched it up from the stock 18-55mm lens to this 60mm in this photo. Between the 50mm and the 60mm, I can’t decide which lens I like more. There are so many options, expensive ones too – but I have reluctantly realized (thank you BEN!), it’s not the camera that takes crappy photos, it’s us, the users. More often than not we aren’t using the camera right to take great photos! It’s all about the tools. Take the time to learn your camera and you will find your groove and your photography will change before your eyes. Don’t be discouraged. Be encouraged and be empowered. Ready? BREAK!
5) We still haven’t ordered our wedding photos – six months later – but I decided to change out some of the photos I’ve had around the house so we had a little more Palouse in our lives to look at. It helps fill the void.
6) And if you didn’t see thisyet – I have to ask – how is that rock you’re living under? Because dessert for dinner and now looking at this for breakfast really just shows you how far I’ve fallen. Send help. And Girl Scout cookies. With some salted caramel sauce.
7) Is anyone else completely smitten with all the mint things this season? My singular focus in all things fashion is now honed in on mint. Went to Target and the three items purchased were all varying shades of mint. The nail polish alone is the best $2 ever spent.
It’s almost that time of year again – Girl Scout Cookies are almost here! I maintain that they are probably the next best indicator of the incoming spring - other than Punxatawny Phil being torn from his little den of slumber to tell us if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or not. And to a blessed relief we will actually have an early spring this year! Now if Girl Scout Cookies could come out to a store near us, like now, that would be uber spectacular! But instead of chowing down on them in the traditional way, this year I went a little over board with a Samoas Brownie Parfait with Salted Caramel sauce and Coconut Whipped Cream.
I know. I’m a horrible person. Right? Let’s just collectively pick ourselves up off the floor and shake this one off. Let me tell you, there were no words.
I grew in the Girl Scouts, looking forward every year to camping trips, arts and crafts, horse camp (E.v.e.r.y. YEAR), and of course – Cookie Season. At the time being a Girl Scout was great fun, but it was also a chance to grow and be apart of a group that revolved around being a kid, developing a curious mind and learning to be proud of who I was and would turn out to be. It never really sank in until I became and adult and realized what an impact those times really had on my life. They weren’t just memories made of being a kid, they were experiences that made me more outgoing, more understanding, well rounded and best of all adventurous in all the things I do – teaching me there was nothing I couldn’t accomplish with gumption and tenacity.
This year the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have teamed up with local Seattle bloggers, like myself, for a recipe contest where we get to flex out muscles and really reach for the stars in creating fun and different recipes with our favorite cookies. Voting will be taking place from February 19th to March 1st here on the Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie webpage. Stop by for a visit and vote on your favorite - even mine if you’re so inclined - there are bound to be some amazing creations!
My favorite from the dawn of time has always been (and will always be) Samoas. Between the shortbread cookie, toasted coconut, sticky caramel and the drizzled chocolate - is it any wonder this is the. perfect. cookie?! I thought so!
What’s the going rate for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s here in the States? $4? Take a guess how much it is Down Under in Australia? I can give you a clue… It’s more than $10 and less than $15 – for a pint- and they don’t carry Cherry Garcia. Uhhh, excuse me? Isn’t Cherry Garcia the International Standard Bearer of Gourmetish Ice Cream? With my Dad down in Australia for the next few months, I figured he needed a hit of the good stuff and decided to whip up a not-quite-as-melty-batch of Cherry Garcia Chocolate Bark as a surprise.
Except for the surprise is now blown (HI DAD!), but the sentiment still remains. It’s all the fun of Cherry Garcia with out the frosty presentation. And it’s super simple to make on your own and totally shippable half way around the world.
Growing up, and still to this day, my dad’s favorite ice cream is Cherry Garcia. For the longest time, and still to this day, I go for the wild and crazy flavors – Dublin Mudslide, Bovinity Divinity, Americone Dream, anything novel. I never understood the same old-same old, but with him gone – the thought of going spoon deep into a pint of Cherry Garcia along side my dad whilst watching reruns of M*A*S*H seems kinda of comforting and homey in a frosted cream, fruit and chocolate sort of way.
And FYI – A pint of Ben and Jerry’s in Australia goes for around $12 a pint.
Poached eggs are the best type of egg. Ever. This is a statement of fact and thus, not debatable. I should tweet it to Uber Facts and see if they accept it and help me spread it around the Twittersphere, getting hundreds of retweets from people who are smart and believe the same thing I do. And if you do not yet know if poached eggs are for you. Well, is breathing for you? In that case, poached eggs are totally for you. And learning how to poach an egg is absolutely for you!
I’m here to spread the word of these buttery eggs, these eggs on high with their delicate whites and yolks made of butter. The only thing that might rival my obsession with poached eggs is my new fangled obsession with everything mint. Robin’s egg blue? Puhh-leeze, move on over – everything is coming up mint here people. After a shopping trip to Target with a friend I ended up dumping everything in my basket out at the register and realized – it was all pastel green. The tank top, the nail polish and the new t-shirt. When I get a full blown blog redesign done and it’s all mint – you can commit me. I can’t be stopped.
And if that is any indication of the rivalry that mint and poached eggs have on me, I’m half surprised on not in the fetal position on the floor cuddled up with Huck trying to get away from me. Come back HUCKkkkkk!!!
After a classic case of the Monday’s yesterday, I had to do this how-to before the light went down and after the first fork full of poached egg went into my face – the whole afternoon turned around.
It probably also had something to do with the remaining opened bottle of bubbly from the weekend that HAD to be consumed before it went flat. Champagne and poached eggs? It’s totally a thing.
Learning how to poach an egg is much easier than you think and with a couple of simple tricks you do it with one spatula tied in your apron strings.
Valentine’s Day is here. How did this happen? Is it just me or have we just finished Christmas and New Year? I can’t decide if those holidays were yesterday or a really long time ago. But now here we are on the most romantic day of the year and Ben’s and my first Valentine’s Day as married. Awwww, barf. You thought I was all done sentimentalizing my newlywed status didn’t you? Sorry, we’re almost done with the mushy first year married mile-stones. I promise! Just bear with me through a couple more.
Ben and I just started discussing Valentine’s Day plans, but with him in nursing school full time and clinicals on Valentine’s Day proper we’re pushing back the festivities to the weekend, which I suspect most of the population is doing as well. Bravo Valentine’s Day, you are oh so convenient.
The celebration will consist of a dinner out somewhere, presumably somewhere we have a gift card too – since Ben’s parents give us giftcards to restaurants so we can go on date nights and step away from the books and computer long enough to interact (imagine that!) and if I’m really lucky Ben might even (GASP!) buy me carnations. Ever the romantic, Ben hates buying flowers because they’re So expensive and they - die. It’s, in his eyes, paying money to watch something die. See, romantic. Carnations on the other hand, he will get me because no matter what it takes a month to kill them. So he’s getting his monies worth out of them and I get flowers, even filler flowers, and stop nagging him about doing something romantic for me. He says “nagging”, I say “encouraging”. Potato, pototo.
But even if flowers aren’t his way of showing me he loves me, I can live with that – because he builds me stuff. My wedding gift was a 6 shelf gorgeously dark brown stained bookcase he build with his own two man hands. He’s already been commissioned to build me the rest of the furniture for our future house.
Regardless of our differing views of the holiday, romantic or forced-consumer-driven-holiday-contrived-by-card-manufactuers, I am looking forward to another day that I can show my husband that I love him dearly, despite his annoying habit of placing dirty dishes in my just cleaned sink, and be thankful that he puts up with my equally annoying habit of throwing a pile of clothes at the end of the bed that Huck lays on and gets all hairy. Or having five stacks of cook books strategically placed around the house. Or Downton Abbey replaying on an endless loop in the house.
Bless that man and his unending patience. I am beyond thankful for his patience, his drysense of humor that still catches me off guard, getting me hooked on the Office despite my STRONGEST objections to its awkwardness as we were dating, and him having hugs that can make the worst of days suddenly turn around and for putting up with Huck no matter how ridiculous the mutt is. One Valentine’s Day down and 60 more to go. I love you hunny. Really, really.
Now – for the reason you’re all here – mushy crap aside – THE CAKE!! It’s UBER Romantic. It’s got fresh strawberries and champagne in it, which just screams Awwwww!!! The cake is dense but tender, with champagne that cuts the sweet and a swiss meringue frosting that is chock FULL of butter – but is uber light and fluffy, positively MELTS in your mouth. I would love to say the the fresh strawberries make it healthy, but that would be an outlandish lie.
I guess that just means you have to make it for yourself this Valentine’s Day and find out! No, do it now – Because, I’m not kidding – this is Roll Your Eyes into the Back of your SKULL insanely amazeballs.
I would highly suggest you share this with EVERYONE you know, and spread the love and butter (SO MUCH BUTTER) this Valentine’s Day. They will love you right back.
You’re all going to kill me now, I just know it. That is if you hate butter – but since you’re on this little blog, you might not hate me (your jeans might, I know mine do) cause we talk butter alot. Like, an obscene amount. Totally. Sorry, the Valley Girl in me slipped out.
Well we’re talking butter again and a perfectly great use for butter that will infuse an infinite amount of flavor into your dish in one fell swoop. And, it’s fabulously easy. Compound butter is just a fancy way of saying that butter has a bunch of other crap in it spices and flavoring in it. Compound butter can range from savory, spicy to sweet – it’s wonderfully versatile. Pop a couple of compound butter coins under the skin of a chicken to moisten the bird as it bakes or slather it on a good piece of bread, my chosen vehicle of maximum butter absorption. Just being honest.
Source yourself about 1 cup of butter that has been softened, or sat at room temperature until soft.
Place it into a bowl and grab a scraper or rubber spatula. Along with a few cloves of roasted garlic. Have you roasted your own garlic yet? Make sure you catch up on your previous How-Tuesdays with the step by step on how to roast garlic.
Get a few of your favorite spices on hand and for the one cup of butter I use a total of 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon of spice. And that’s pretty generous. It is definitely up to your taste. I really love this McCormick Tuscan seasoning blend. It’s chock full of rosemary, thyme, garlic, red pepper, and lots of fabulous things. It’s my go-to seasoning blend for just about anything savory.
Spoon in your desired amount of seasoning and give it a stir until everything is all blended and evenly dispursed.
Next, source some plastic wrap or parchment paper. I didn’t have any parchment on hand, so I went for the plastic – but parchment does a much better job of shaping a roll of butter.
Dollop your newly compounded butter onto the plastic wrap or parchment and fold the wrap around butter shaping it with your hands into a log. If you have a spatula or bench scraper, push the butter into log form by pushing and tucking the folded and wrapped parchment around itself. I went for the “just use your hands technique” so I didn’t tear up the plastic wrap. It doesn’t look as pro or fancy as the parchment-perfect version, but it all tastes the same. And that’s what matters.
Wrap the remaining plastic wrap around the butter, and if using parchment twist the ends to seal it together. Place it back in the fridge to solidify and then you’re off to the races. Compound the hell outta some butter!
Click below for 10 additional compound butters and the how-to recipe to save or print.
What is your favorite part of Super Bowl? Is it the commercials? The food? Or the, dare I say, GAME?! I’m partial to the food and commercials myself. My team, the Seahawks, yet again didn’t make it to the big game so I’m just gonna sit back, pretend like I care and wear my super stretchy yoga pants and have a beer or two three.
But if you’re scrambling for ideas for the big game is tomorrow and if you haven’t figured out who you’re rooting for or what you’re serving at your game day extravaganza I’ve got a list of 25 Super Bowl recipes for your game day feast that will make those indecisive decisions a little more decisive-able. Sure, it’s not a word but you get the point.
Go get your game-food-face on! And stretchy pants.
Is it really Friday? Really? Well in that case – I have cookies for you. We’ve made it through another week which means we’ve earned it. How does a thick, chewy brown butter white chocolate macadamia cookie with roasty toasty coconut sound? It’s practically a vacation wrapped in butter! Brown butter to be specific.
I can’t be the only one who is over the cold and ready for winter to be over. You, too? I knew we could be friends. To help get through the gray of Seattle, I’ve been spending far too much time pursuing Costco Travel searching out vacation deals although I have no intention of going on any of them. Hawai’i has been top of my list, mostly because Ben has never been there before. I’m rather partial to Maui myself… so I’ll dream of visiting the beach, getting a tan, and having a little umbrella drink in my hand 24/7.
But then that also means I would have to cut out the cookies, danishes, all manner of sweets to make sure other beach combers don’t get freaked out over the beached whale on the beach towel next to them and call for a marine rescue crew to throw me back into the sea.
Brown butter is really a great addition to these cookies because of the warm and cozy toffee-esque taste that comes off those toasted milk solids. And it’s really easy to do at home. I keep a stash of brown butter in the fridge for those times when I need it immeidately. Have you ever tried making your own brown butter? Try this quick how-to brown butter tutorial and you’ll be ready to go.
Now whisk yourself away on a vacation via cookie. It sure beats flying! And bikinis.
She’s a terrible influence. And by terrible influence, I mean the best person in the whole world!
My mom hates texting. Or at least used to hate it. By no means is she a texting savant… for example, she used to have to call me when I was away at college to ask how to turn on her laptop. No joke! But then, something all changed when she got an iPhone and officially became cooler than me – she actually TEXTED me!
And from time to time she will send me random “I love you, hugs mommy” texts, and then somedays she sends me photos of her and my step-dad’s latest cooking creation. This weekend is was step by step photos of how to make these Buffalo Chicken Sliders. I take back what I said about my mom being a terrible person. They both are. Terribly awesome.
Saturday night Beka and I sat at my favorite restaurant here in Seattle with a couple girlfriends, drinking copious amounts of wine, sitting by a fire and enjoying a couple of hours sans husbands, children, dogs, and discussing the virtues of kids earlier versus later in life and how to cope with difficult mothers in law and husbands with hilarious quirks and far flung dreams of leavin’ it allll behind like a bad 70′s disco song to adventure to lands out yonder with no plan other than “let’s get a van and go”. Ohhh, husbands.
Then more wine was consumed.
In between the hilarity of it all – my phone started to light up repeatedly and unlocked it as soon as I saw “Mom” pop up continuously. Nothing like a slew of text messages from your non-tech savvy mother to insight panic in a daughter! It was probably payback for something I’d done long ago…
But it wasn’t anything to worry about – it was sliders. THESE Sliders.
I love my mommy.
Buffalo chicken has an almost Pavlovian response and then all I can envision is stuff slathered in buffalo sauce. It’s insane.
Despite all of Saturday’s wine and good food – I woke up Sunday with an undeniable urge to make these. The urge so intense, I brave Costco on a Sunday to make sure I had the perfect pretzel roll. If that doesn’t explain how primal this urge for buffalo was, I don’t know what does.
Soup season is well under way and it shows no sign of slowing down. There is nothing better than a big Olympic sized swimming pool bowl full of soup. Let’s just dive in an slurp our way back to the top. Deal? Good. Synchronized slurping, it’s gotta be a thing.
Learning how to make chicken stock at home is simple and tastes way better than the stuff you can buy at the store. And it can be done with simple veggies you probably already have in your house. You’re just a few steps away from making your house smells like grandma’s used to when you were a kid.
Step one is to source yourself the remnants of a roasted chicken, a boat load of veggies, and a big stock pot or dutch oven.
In the stock pot heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and place in quarters of one onion over medium heat allowing the onion to start to brown. Slice up three stalks of celery and two large carrots adding them to the onion and browning them as well. Stir when you feel like it and allow them to start to break down slightly. About 10 minutes or so.
Once the veggies have brown, add in the dinner formerly known as roast chicken to the top of it – skins, bones, and what is left of the meat, too. Top with 2 quarts of cold filtered water, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary to taste and cover.
Go about your day, cuddle with your hunny on the couch and pop in a movie as your stock simmers away for at least two hours.
Once the veggies and chicken have broken down it’s tim to strain. Into a large bowl with a fine mesh stainer pour the stock through to remove the large chunks of vegg and chicken. Next, add a double layer of cheesecloth to the strainer and pour through again to remove the finer particles. After letting the stock sit for a few minutes some fat will rise to the top. Gently scrape from the top of the stock and discard.
In my case, I wanted freeze my stock – pouring four cups into heavy duty freezer bags. Seal the bags and lay them flat on a large cookie sheet and freeze. When they are frozen and flat, the bags can be easily stacked in your freezer.
Next time you have a hankering for grandma’s prized soup, you’re one step closer to the promised land. Or promised soup? Either way – you’re the winner.