Thursday, December 24, 2009

Congratulations, you've ruined Christmas

First of all, I want to be Martha Stewart, but I so don't have what it takes. Skill, patience, and know how aside.... Are the holidays NOT completely stressful when the best laid plans turn out looking like a kindergartner made them? *sigh*

In other news the copious amounts of sugar and butter in these christmas candy recipes kind of grosses me out. For goodies for John's parents (his dad is diabetic by the way, great idea lauren) and my boss I decided to make an old recipe for PB and chocolate bars that my mom used to make.

  • 2 freaking POUNDS of powdered sugar
  • 3 effin sticks of butter
  • 2 cups of creamy peanut butter

seriously, just thinking about it makes me want a vegetable. After I finally got all of those mixed (and had proceeded to get powdered suger all over myself and my kitchen) I patted it into the bottom of a casserole dish. I melted chocolate chips and poured it over the top. Then I waited... and waited, and waited. It was supposed to 'set' after a couple of hours. Bullshit. After two hours i 'cut' it into squares with a butter knife and then let it set all night to solidify. Did it? Not at all. So I put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. It helped, but mostly just for the chocolate part, which completely kept separating from the PB/butter mush.

I then proceeded to hand pack and mold each square as I loaded up the tins. It was labor intensive, and it really knocked the whole 'presentation' thing off it's game. F.

In other cooking (*cough* unhealthy *cough) adventures, I made a few treats for John's sister's tacky sweater party. I thought I would leave the endive/questionable but fancy appetizers to girlfriends (oh HEY jaclyn), and stick with what works when feeding people (boys) drinking beer. I.E. comfort food. Although I did kind of feel like a douche since John's sister got me a 'Clean Food' book for Christmas since she knows how much I like my healthy eating. Oops.

I started making pinwheels based on a taste of home recipe, but many subsitutions and ingredient changes later, it turned out with:
  • cream cheese (enough to feed an army, seriously)
  • green chilies (i finally found these in the grocery store! big step for me)
  • black olives
  • red peppers
  • white flour tortillas (so much more pliable than WW and more crowd friendly, sadly)
  • ground red pepper to excess
  • Mrs. Dash's 'chipotle' seasoning to EXCESS
  • Salsa to put in the middle

don't you like my dollar general plates? That's just $1 folks. After much tasting during the R&D stage, I couldn't eat any at the actual party because it was SO rich. This was a hit though, and was all gone when the party was over. On the other hand, what cream cheese appetizer isn't? That stuff is like gold.

I also was completely intrigued by a recipe I found for 'cheesecake on a stick' from Delish. No seriously, doesn't that sound like the stuff dreams are made of? I kept saying since so many people there grew up around Sedalia MO (home of the Missouri State Fair, obviously) that it was my on-a-stick tribute to their local cuisine.
  • no-bake cookies & cream cheesecake
  • dark chocolate chips to melt
  • sprinkles
  • mini skewers

Please click on the link to the recipe to see what is IMPOSSIBLE for these to look like. How are they perfectly spherical? While I was at my hair appointment that morning John was attempting to roll the hardened no-bake cheesecake into balls. Equipped with melon ballers, waxed paper, and a myriad of other tools he still was befuddled (yes befuddled) with how to make them any more smooth than you see there. They were frozen with sticks in them, then dipped in melted chocolate. With the chocolate still wet we attempted to dip them into christmas sprinkles..... you know, like the picture...... except that the chocolate swallowed them all. F. We abandoned the sprinkle idea pretty quickly. So glad I spent $6 on christmas sprinkles. Not.

Despite the so-so appearance (the plate helps, right?) these were hot property too. The stick makes it fun to eat, and who doesn't love cookies and cream. Am I right or am I right?
I also found some sweet new threads for John and I to wear to the party.

The plaid holiday headband matched the plaid holiday shoes. BAM.
John, on the other hand, stole the sweater I had actually purhcased for myself...... Apparently shoulder pads really ARE irresistable.

Okay everybody, only 2 more hours at this desk and then I . AM. OUTTA HERE! Too bad I'll be driving 6 hours north today for the Iowa Fam festivities and then 15 hours east on Saturday for a WEEK LONG VACATION with the fam in DC at my brother's place. Too bad we are supposed to be driving in a blizzard the whole time. No seriously like 20 inches of snow during or just before our journey.
Happy Holidays everyone!!!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Helllllllllllloooo Nurse!

It is times like this (sitting at my desk, ignoring my to-do list) that I wish I were at home in footie PJs watching animaniacs. Is that show even still on? The hello nurse comment is from there and a nod to Emily Millertime, obviously.

So my fair city has had some lovely guests in the first few weeks of December including but not limited to my BFF Nickie in for a wedding (isn't she beauteous?)

And a rowdy crowd this saturday for a birthday party. My camera caught a moment on the Dance floor and every single one of those hooligans is hilarious and so much fun.

Even this one :)
In other life altering ridiculously amazing things, a vendor sent me a Godiva gift box for spending so much in advertising with them. I can be bought with chocolate, oh yes I can. Highlight of my life. I am never going back to Russell Stover.

In food related activities Jaclyn and I had a little dinner party for ourselves! Our date night was with Julie & Julia and all of the fun apps we could handle. I pretty much love her little house she and her BF live in. Adorable and so fixed up.

I made the pumpkin dip again. Cream cheese + brown sugar + pumpkin puree = basically the pie and complete delicousness. I also made the mini baked potato bites from last NYE. Those are comfort food at it's finest and sound yummy to me even as I type this. I also was curious about an endive recipe that I found.

Endive Boat Things from Real Simple

  • Ricotta
  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • EVOO
  • Endive leaves

Truthfully... these had no flavor. Maybe I should've got full fat ricotta? Jaclyn and I agreed a drizzle of honey instead of EVOO would've helped but either way, these were pretty forgettable.

Jaclyn made feta/green apple/craizin bites in a phyllo shells. YUM. Those were rocking my world. Also a hit was the pre-made frozen spinach bites. Sometimes you just can't one-up the pillsbury people. Good stuff.

Jaclyn also made little gingerbread men. Lots of Shrek jokes were going around, obviously.

Oh no... don't eat me....!

Yesterday I rented Funny Girl (i've never seen it!) from the Library because this week's GLEE episode had me singing 'Don't Rain on my Parade'. I think I'm officially a Streisand fan. It was good stuff and made for excellent shower singing. Also I talked John through his first chili recipe that I showed him from one of Paula Deen's sons on the food network. Sounds yummy, no? So proud of him, so proud.
Only 9.5 more days until Christmas vacation!!! :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Caution: Gratuitous Family Photos

So Happy belated Thanksgiving! I am thankful for oh-so-many things including you dear reader .. hi five. Anyway the weekend got wrapped up with mom and I going shopping.

Mom got all kinds of fabulous stuff and we both got fabulous dresses for our New Years Eve soiree at the Kennedy Center in DC. She looked AMAZING and had way too many cocktail dresses from which to choose. Life is so hard, isn't it? :)

We waited until Saturday partially because we were hundreds of miles in any direction from a mall at 3am Friday morning, and partially because we didn't want to be trampled by the stampede of people in an angry mob for discounted electronics and tickle-me-elmos.

On Friday I met up with my lady friends, one of whom was in town from Denver for the Holiday. Picture these people in scarves.
On Wednesday when I burned out of work at 5pm on the dot, the brother and I got home in time to decorate the tree.
My dad in all of his goofiness got us hats. We resisted but secretly liked them. That's right dad, I admit it.
Coming to a Christmas card near you.
After six hours of traveling in one day we finally made it to the family farm in Iowa. I didn't take photos of the food, but the meal looked approximately like this:

My momma and her sisters (shout out to three uncles lounging in the background). Because my mom is one of eleven, the family gatherings generally have about forty or so people. We are a huge family, it's pretty great.

Guess we forgot our pilgrim hats, huh?Around the corner from the farm is the 'graffiti barn' which has existed all of my life though I've never partaken (local high school kids?) this year we decided to brave the 28 degree weather (plus wind, brrrrrr) and make our mark. Hey... the family that sprays together stays together.
At home, early the next morning we went to water aerobics where my sister was the impatient instructor. a) it's not just for old ladies, it's serious business

b) we mostly goofed off.... i.e. 'freestyle'.

At home for our last family meal we had EGGS BENEDICT... mwwwwwwwah. I love it. Mom whipped up the hollandaise and I made sure everyone got one with traditional ham (yadda yadda yadda) and veggie with tomato and spinach leaves. This is becoming one of my favorite meals ever... minus how labor intensive it is.

And that my friends is all she wrote. How many shopping days until Christmas?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for fennel/stuffing/date night

Actually I'm thankful for a whole lot of other things, but for the purpose of recapping the events of late, I will keep the gratitude to relevant things.

My boyfriend took me to Wicked!! But let's rewind, shall we.

I found Aida's recipe for vegetarian pot pie and I was intrigued. Growing up you couldn't get my brother and I away from those frozen delicous pot pies. I was excited to try the recipe with yet another produce item I had yet to purchase/use/knowingly eat. Fennel had a strong odor that reminded me of something, but I'm not sure what. All in all it was basically an onion, right? Vegetarian Pot Pie - Aida Mollenkamp, Food Network
  • fennel
  • onions
  • carrots
  • mushrooms
  • peas
  • potato
  • milk
  • broth
  • flour
  • parsley
  • pre-made pie dough sheets




I also got to see my friends including one with the world's most adorable baby. He's 9 months which is a hilarious and fun age. Seriously all this kid does is giggle and clap and get excited (well... and pull hair with a monster grip). When I asked Jessica if all babies were this happy she said not at all, that they had just hit the baby lottery. :)

With baby asleep, mom and friends had plenty of Margs..... and catch phrase. Nice :) On the way home from our fun girls weekend I stopped and went wedding dress shopping with my H.S. BFF. Doesn't she look pretty? Um yeah... as you can tell by her expression, this was not the dress that she chose. For the record, I loved it and resisted trying it on while she wasn't looking. What? I love dresses in all colors.

I also recently made this yummy recipe:
Stuffed acorn squash from Kaboose/All recipes

Acorn Squash
Brown Sugar
Dry stuffing mix
broth (i was out, so used water and it was totally fine)
garlic powder/salt/onion powder to taste
One for me...

One for my brother after picking him up from the airport. I thought it was heaven.... he sort of just ate the stuffing. *sigh*

Then.... Tailgate time!!!!

The food was very tail-gate-esque. Not so healthy, but appropriate and delicous all the same (holler boy scout popcorn!).
Mom made rice crispies... which have never been my thing, but I know for a fact that the ones on the far left with the gooey carmel layer will rock your socks off (Aunt Teresa's recipe!)
all together now..

Please disregard my mother straying from the black/gold attire that one is to wear to a Mizzou tailgate... she is an ISU grad. It's okay though, they lost and she did minimal cheering for them so she didn't get lynched by the MU crowd in the seats around us.

Perfect weather, perfect game, perfect outcome. Afterwards we headed to my alma matter who was playing John's team in an exhibition game. The teams were in way different divisions and unevenly matched, so it was no surprise when they lost.... However... it was painful... I was rooting for both teams, so I guess it all turned out okay, right? (sorry John!)

We stayed at my godfather's house where he fussed over us and with milk/brownies/breakfast, etc. I loved it!

Back in KC I had to get ready for my hot date! Prior to Wicked!! I made John a very man-friendly meal, courtesy of the hilarious Paula Deen, shout out to Paula, sorry you got hit in the face with a ham yesterday!
Lady & Sons Chicken, Paula Deen Food Network
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (i used two instead of four and just cut them in half... shhhh, don't tell John)
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Stuffing Mix
  • Butter

    This was so easy to make and was a quitessential 'guy' meal. It tasted very thanksgiving to me.... you can't go wrong with that, right?

Nom Nom NOm

And finally.... I purchased a vintage sewing machine table off of Craig's List. I'll be getting a sewing machine in the near future, but I've always wanted/needed a little more counter space in my place (i have zero tables, just an ottoman and various other trunks and storage items). This will probably be in the corner over by my bed when it's all said and done but I'm already a fan. Your thoughts?

Today I'm taking a 1/2 day... whoop whoop! TGITuesday everyone... one more day!