Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday Things

1)     Dear HGTV, I have a new show idea for you, it’s called “Grandma’s Garage.” Every week a new episode will showcase the home improvement and design talents of grannies across the country. Tool belts and power tools will be involved. You can thank me later.

2)     Preach, Joy.

3)     I don’t know if you saw these peaches that Jess posted yesterday but they look phenomenal. And they remind me of this burger I had way back in July (woa, almost September) that I have been day dreaming about for weeks. We took regular patties and stuffed them with Gorgonzola cheese, and grilled them to medium rare, then topped them with more cheese, red onion and balsamic braised peaches. The combo of sweet, salty, tart, and juicy was beyond ridiculous.

4)     I am a sucker for a backrub. It is one of my biggest weaknesses. My mom can attest to that, because every time she is sitting in the living room I come and plop myself in front of her and wiggle around until she starts scratching my back. So, when my sisters and I went to a spa on Monday I was in hog heaven. A body buff, hot stone massage, foot rejuvenation, and an aromatherapy scalp treatment were all capped off by an amazing lunch. It was sister bonding at its finest.

5)     The next day at work I decided there should be a rule that allows people to have 72 hours off from real life after any and all spa treatments. What’s the use of paying a bunch of money to get all the kinks and knots worked out of my muscles if they just come back the next day while I stand in front of a hot oven?

6)     Speaking of, tomorrow is my last day at the bakery. Holy moly time went fast.

7)     My grandma brought enough fruit to our house this weekend to make a few Edible Arrangements so I’m looking for ways to use it up. One of the ways I have been making my way through the produce is salsa. I made a nectarine salsa that is by far my favorite fruit salsa to date. I took my blueberry kiwi salsa recipe and subbed out the blueberries and kiwi for two nectarines and used a whole jalapeno to get a real contrast of spicy and sweet. Yum, yum.

8)     I’m planning on making some crockpot meals I can take down to school in a few weeks and am looking for some ideas. The issue though, is that I’ve never been a huge fan of what comes out of crockpot. The food has just never appealed to me. Except the crockpot dulce de leche from a can of sweetened condensed milk, now that I can get behind. Anywho...if anyone has some really amazing crockpot recipes that keep in the freezer well, please share!  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Banana Zucchini Bundt Cake

I’m a big time control freak planner. I’ve written about this compulsion before. I like knowing what’s going to happen and when. I make lists of my lists and multiple copies of my work schedule every week. Nevermind that my to-do list is never done and I sometimes spread myself too thin when it comes to scheduling appointments, I am what I am. I am a planner.


Lately, though, my baking hasn’t been as structured as I would like. I am forgetting canisters in cupboards or neglecting to gather all my tools in one place or not preheating the oven before I begin. I just feel scatterbrained and harried, often working with too many ideas and too little time. It’s been maddening to feel so unorganized in a space that I am usually so comfortable in, doing an activity that is usually so effortless and enjoyable. It had to stop.

I knew I needed a plan.

I knew I needed my bundt pan.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blueberry Kiwi Salsa

I’ve got nothing for this salsa. It's hot, I’ve been working like crazy, and am beyond sleep deprived. And really need to paint my nails so we’re keeping this short and sweet. And eating some Blueberry Kiwi Salsa.

I made it months ago right in the midst of a heat wave and a baking lapse. I put it on everything. Salads. Salmon. Spoons. It was phenomenal. I’m always looking for new salad toppings and love putting fruit in my salads so this salsa was the best of both worlds.

Any fruit and be thrown together with some jalapeno and red onion and become a quick and easy salsa, I’ve done cherry and strawberry variations of this with huge success. Have fun with it!

Blueberry Kiwi Salsa (make approx. 2 cups, inspired by How Sweet Eats)

1 vine ripe tomato, seed and chopped

½ medium jalapeno, seeded and chopped

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 whole kiwi, peel and chopped

Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

Juice of ½ a lime

Salt, to taste

Combine ingredients in food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Alternatively, ingredients can be chopped uniformly and simply mixed together.

Salsa can be stored in fridge for up to one week.

I lied, I’ve got chips for this salsa.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Things

1)     I think there’s something so endearing to how Paula Deen starts her show “Best Dishes” so naturally. She’s holding a cup of coffee and laughing and just looks so at home (which I guess makes sense…because she’s…uhh…she’s actually in her home…). It makes me really excited to watch her.

2)     In the four years I have been a waitress, I have never ruined a piece of clothing. Besides a work short getting splattered with oil here or there I've had a remarkably clean track record. Except for these past two weeks where I have managed to sit in bleach not once, but TWICE, and ruin two pairs of my favorite pants. That’s what I get for trying to look presentable at work. 

3)     I need to read this. And then reread it. And then print it out and highlight it.

4)     I’m slowly making my way through about 5 pounds of garden fresh cherry tomatoes. I had a lot of ideas rolling around in my head for what I wanted to do with them. Like a cobbler. Or jam. Or tart of some kind. But I’ve really just been enjoying eating them by the handful. Sometimes simplicity really is key. 

5)     Do you know Kerry? You should. Her posts are always so funny. And her recipes are always mouth-wateringly delicious. Her recent Oreo Truffle Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe combined with a post about Veronica Mars? It’s like she lives in my brain or something.

6)     Speaking of Veronica Mars, I had the weirdest dream a few weeks ago. I mean, it was so weird it has stuck with me for weeks. Which is weird. And so are majority of my dreams. But this one was exceptional in its weirdness. I was Veronica Mars (yeap). I was trying to bust an old lady who was running some kind of scheme out of her barn turned funky art studio (what?). She tried to run me over with her car (it gets better). As I was running down the road to get away from her, Schmidt from New Girl showed up (yes). But he wasn’t alone, there were like 5 clones of Schmidt (double yes). And they were Amish (I don’t even know).

7)     My brain is a dark and mysterious place.

8)     I’ve begun the countdown to move-in day to my apartment. And the subsequent freak out. I’ve got so much to do! So much to pack and finalize and spray paint. I’m having heart palpatations just thinking about it.

9)     While awkwardly doing yoga at a local park yesterday morning I was lying down on the ground and looked up and all I could see were green leaves and sunlight. It was the most gorgeous sight. I’m glad I didn’t take my cell phone along – it was just me and the flow of the poses that morning – but I wish I could have snapped a picture and shown it to y’all. It was just one of those pure, happy, natural moments that everyone should experience more often.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mini Turkey Pitas with Avocado and Red Onion

I’m so sick of ham. Sick and tired of ham. Ham sandwiches. Hot ham and cheese. Dirty crockpot water ham. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The ham that is at every seemingly respectable church, community, or family event in the Midwest. It just sits in dirty water for 6 hours as people grab stale buns and make sandwiches with it Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

I, on the other hand, have a much more refined palate and choose to snarf down taco dip and lemon squares and bbq baked chips like my life depends on it. But that's neither here nor there...

But, not every day holds such an occasion as the annual church picnic or a second cousins graduation party. On those days there is no dirty crockpot water ham (thank goodness). There’s just lunch.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dark Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes with Marshmallow Coffee Buttercream

I get a lot of things from my dad. My brown eyes, olive skin, and “solid” build all come from him. My annoyingly obsessive attention to detail, dry sense of humor, and predisposition to mornings go to his credit too. While some of the traits I have gotten from him are genetic, I’ve also picked up a lot of learned behaviors from him over the years. Since I was a little girl I’ve been watching him and studying him and mimicking him – it’s only natural that some of his habits and traits would eventually become mine. For better or worse.

There’s one thing he does though that I will just not do. Never, ever will I be okay with doing this. Never, EVER. It is a habit so disgusting, so repulsive I can barely bring myself to write it (I’m really making you want one of those cupcakes up there, aren’t I?).

My father reuses day-old coffee.

There. I said it. And may have gotten a little queasy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thursday Things...on Saturday

1)     This was supposed to be written two days ago and it wasn’t. Instead Thursday was spent saying goodbye to friends  as they go on big, international adventures, buying cute polka dot dresses for 60% off, and eating banana, caramel, and coffee ice cream sundaes. Laughing until we were in pants wetting territory was also involved (TMI? Probably. But my friends are funny.)
2)     Thursday was full of good things.
3)     Wednesday night was too. I went and saw Brave with my family. I laughed, gasped, and cried while watching it. And three ginger babies? Are you kidding me?! You win again, Pixar.
4)     There was also La Luna. And the most adorable animated youngster I have ever seen.

5)     I did not watch a single Shark Week related show. I see this as both a success and a failure. Success because I was able to avoid the inevitable 7 hours of television watching that would accompany “just watching one show.” Failure because I was able to avoid the inevitable 7 hours of television watching that would accompany “just watching one show.” Some people say I’m complicated.
6)     It's not as hard to make room for a two pound container of Ghiradelli white chocolate chips in an already overflowing cupboard as I used to think it was. 
7)     I’m finding the sound of typing to be incredibly soothing lately. But then I remember how it sounds like school. And THEN I remember how I am starting class in a little over a month. And how I move down to my apartment in only a few weeks. And how my financial aid is all wonky. And how I still haven’t bought a microwave cart. And then I start to panic.
8)     5 minute, early-morning yoga sessions in pajamas. Let’s do this.
9)     This new map thing on Instagram? I don’t get it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Morning Thoughts

Sometimes, you just know it's going to be one of "those" days. A day that, right off the bat, is bad. You wake up late or are running late or both. You can't find your keys. You forgot to get dry cleaning. And while sitting in traffic you begin regretting the ice cream with a side of ice cream snack from the night before. Which I've totally done Not that I've ever done that...

Today is not one of "those" days. Today is one of those days. A day where you beat your alarm by two hours. A day where you forgo a sweatshirt on an impromptu bike ride and relish the feel of the crisp air on bare skin for 5 miles. A day where 12 minutes of yoga is just as good as 45. A day where the scent of coffee has healing powers. A day that feels possible.

Good Day

Let's have more of those days. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday Things

1)     This is going to sound very un-American…but I am going to be really happy when the Olympics are over. Before I get cyber-slapped in the face, hear me out. I love the Olympics. I think they are a prime example of the amazing feats the human body is capable. And I love watching the good ol’ U S of A kick butt (re: women’s soccer (!!!)). But, I can’t handle the stress. I get beyond anxious watching the athletes. And then I stress eat. And then I look at the tiny gymnasts and divers and I eat some more because they are so teeny I feel like someone should be making up for them. I can’t handle another night of spooning cookie butter into my mouth as I watch athletes perform. It’s too stressful. And don’t even get me started on if we don’t win an event (see: women’s 400 hurdles).

2)     I drove past the most beautiful field of sunflowers today. That was something completely new to me. I have never seen an entire field just FULL of sunflowers. It was the most beautiful, awe-inspiring sight; pops of yellow and black as far as the eye could see. I was tempted to take a picture but A) I was driving and while that normally wouldn’t stop me…B) my dad was with me and C) he already thinks I'm a bad driver it was raining pretty heavily. The clouds and gloom from the storm only made the flowers pop even more, it was really uplifting to look at.

3)     Even though it kept me from taking a picture of the sunflowers, the rain has given me an excuse to bake banana muffin and a spice infused Bundt cake. Not that I needed the excuse.

4)     A brisk (and slightly damp) run is a way better cure for being over-tired than a nap. I’m just not a napper. Totally throws off my already finicky sleep schedule.

5)     I am already excited for fall. I’m dying to wear sweaters and drink tea and burn pumpkin caramel spice-y like candles in my new apartment. I may or may not have made a Pinterest board. August what?

6)     Surf and Turf Stuffed Manicotti. I’m just going to let that marinate for a minute…now…wipe the drool off the keyboard.

7)     My dad and I went for lunch today at this little cafe a few towns over. The place is cramped, loud, and only open from March – November and I love it. The food is great, the coffee is perfect, and the owner, Holly, couldn’t be sweeter. I want to be her when I grow up.

Dad: "What are you doing? Why do you keep messing with your phone? Are you taking a picture of me?!"

8)     Too funny.

9)     I knew I had been freezing avocados for a reason.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Eggs Fried In Peppers

I eat eggs every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. Eggs are quick, easy, and full of protein. They satisfy me after a tough workout or keep me full during my long shifts at work. While I don’t think it’s excessive (it’s normal to go through two dozen eggs solo in one week, totally normal) it can get a bit boring.

So when a friend sent me a link on Facebook showing me a new way to prepare eggs my first thought was “Man, how come I didn’t think of that!” and my second was “I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Spinach and Jalapeno Salmon Cakes with Sauteed Kale and Cherry Tomatoes

I’ve been thinking about Baltimore a lot lately. Around this time last year I visited a friend from school there and had one of the best weeks of vacation, bar none. My memory has been able to retrieve the smallest details – the feel of the hardwood floor on my toes early in the morning, the spray of the water coming off the harbor cooling my hot skin, the sound of construction crews as they worked tirelessly on the road outside my friend’s apartment.

I remember my first meal there in vivid detail. Fresh off the plane (or as fresh as one can be after 4 hours of sleep and a nearly missed flight), we went to a Baltimore landmark, Miss Shirley’s, to sample a Baltimore classic, crab cakes.

Having had crab cakes in Wisconsin before and being less than impressed, my taste buds were primed to be disappointed. 

I love when my taste buds are wrong.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday Things

1)     Quick poll: how many pairs of sweatpants are too many pairs of sweatpants? If half of my pants are sweats and/or of the yoga type variety – what does that say about me?

2)     Last Saturday I made my way to the Amish country about an hour away from my house and in addition to have some of this filled maple Bismarck that weighed approximately 12 pounds, I had two cookies and a cup of coffee. I want every breakfast to be like that.

3)     Gilmore Girls will never get old. Ever. I will watch it on SoapNet, ABC Family, the computer. Whenever, wherever. I love that show. I’m still in mourning at the show’s end even though it’s been SEVEN YEARS. No, I don’t have issues letting things go.

5)     I watched my dad make a taco for my dog as her dinner tonight. Complete with cheese and sour cream. “But, no tomatoes, because she doesn’t like tomatoes.” This is on the heels of her ice cream cone yesterday.

6)     Yes, I’m serious.

7)     At work today, my boss and I came up with a new idea for a theme park! It’s brilliant, fantastic, a surefire hit! It’s…wait for it…wait for it…CUPCAKE LAND! Perfect, right?! We had a huge (HUGE) order for cupcakes today and were calling the kitchen cupcake land and before I knew it we were making plans for a Pineapple Upside-down Coaster.

8)     I am really and truly trying to take this to heart. I want the rest of my summer, the next school year, and every day after that to have purpose. Little by little, I am breaking old (not so good for me) habits and making my way there.  

9)     Having “MMMBop” as a ringtone was a better idea in theory than in practice. People in line at the gas station did not take too kindly to Taylor, Isaac, and Zac this afternoon when I couldn’t find my phone while it rang. Loudly. I am all kinds of 1997 awesome.