Sometimes you get weird stuff in the Christmas swap

In case you were unclear, this post is a throwback to Christmastime–or winter-holiday time for anyone celebrating something else….YUP I’m inclusive.

So I feel like I need to give a little background to this post. My dad’s girlfriend (oh hey T) introduced this amazing game into our Christmas celebrations a few years ago. The gist of it is that everyone stands in a circle and most people are holding a present (all if you want to make sure everyone ends up with a prize…..I’m still resentful of 2012 when me and Meg ended up empty handed. T reads a story about the Right family…and you pass presents around whenever the words “right” and “left” are announced. It gets INTENSE…especially in my family because we love a good holiday punch. Long story short I ended up with a boxed Italian christmas cake “Panettone” that was regifted into the game by my godfather.

This box o' mystery. Do people really buy this for themselves? It's not all that bad to be honest...

This box o’ mystery. Do people really buy this for themselves? It’s not all that bad to be honest…

You’ve all probably seen them before in the grocery store. Like me you’re probably wondering what the F you do with this box of strange. Turns out Giada from the Food Network has the answer! You make a bread pudding!

Simple to make. Easy ingredients.

Simple to make. Easy ingredients.

It’s actually super simple to make—and BONUS: it tastes amazing. I made it for the New Years Eve party I went to. A bit of truth for you, this is some full fat sh*t. You gotta just roll with it on this one…lower fat alternatives just don’t hold up as well.

Panettone Bread Pudding:
-1  box panettone bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
-8 large eggs
-1 1/2 cups whipping cream
-2 1/2 cups whole milk
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-vanilla

Butter/Pam a dish and arrange the bread cubes in it. In a large bowl whisk all the other ingredients together and then pour over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes a bit to make sure they’re covered. Let stand for about 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 mins until the pudding puffs up and the center is set.

Bread pudding is always the right choice

Bread pudding is always the right choice

I topped it with some homemade whipped cream. It went over pretty well.

In other newsssss….I just got back from a trip to San Fran to visit L! A group of us went, and we had a total blast celebrating birthdays and L’s new San Fran life.

The fog gets crazy in San Fran. It literally covered the bridge the day we arrived

The fog gets crazy in San Fran. It literally covered the bridge the day we arrived

We seriously had so much fun. Here’s a quick recap of the shenanigans we got into:

-self guided wine tasting tour where we got daytime buzzed drinking wine all day and playing bocci ball
-amazing dinner with L’s bro and sis in law and their 4 beautiful and way too lovable babies
-brunches
-sight seeing of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ghirardelli  factory, the Full House houses, and so much more
-night tour of Alcatraz
-soaking up the sunshine…I was beginning to forget what it felt like
-meeting up with CB!!!
-fun bars, new friends, cocktails and Cards Against Humanity

The Ladies outside of the Cliff House after brunch

The Ladies outside of the Cliff House after brunch

 

K&CB together again!! #viadelmoro4life

K&CB together again!! #viadelmoro4life

 

Gettin' our drank on with amazing cucumber type cocktails with Death Star ice balls.

Gettin’ our drank on with amazing cucumber type cocktails with Death Star ice balls.

Check out this sweeet 20 piece knife set that C and D got me for my bday :) woot woot

Check out this sweeet 20 piece knife set that C and D got me for my bday 🙂 woot woot

Fall Food Fiesta Episode 1

You know…I tried for like 5 minutes just now to come up with something clever to call the next few posts….I got nothin’. So I settled for some basic alliteration.

The thing is, I love fall. Its basically my fave season. The colors, the temperature (my ideal), the smells, and obvi the foods. Tis the season of PUMPKIN…and squash, and apples, and cinnamon. There really isn’t any other time of year where we go as nuts over these guys as RIGHT NOW. Anyone within a 2 mile radius of a Starbucks knows all about the pumpkin craze (cough…return of the pumpkin spice latte…cough cough).

So I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve cooked up this autumn.

First in this fall fiesta series comes Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Browned Butter Sage Sauce.

I have wanted to make ravioli for a while now, but I got a pretty severe case of the lazies.  And I’m not talking about getting like for serious-serious about this…I’m talking about using wonton wrappers as the pasta substitute. Pinterest paints a pretty detailed road map on just how to do it.

You can pick up wonton wrappers pretty cheap at just about any grocery store (HINT: they are in the produce section and cost under $5).

Cook the squash, add the spices and puree.

Cook the squash, add the spices and puree.

I didn’t follow a set recipe but here’s what I used:

-1 mediumish butternut squash
-Cinnamon and all spice
-~1/4 c. butter
-1/2 parmesan cheese
-1 package wonton wrappers

To start your cook your squash. Add spices, cheese, and butter and blend until smooth.

Add the dollop of squash

Add the dollop of squash

Then its time to assemble your raviolis. Put a dollop of your squash mixture in the center of on wonton wrapper. Then, using your finger or a pastry brush, wet the edges with water and seal with another wrapper. Pinch the edges all the way closed. Continue until all the squash and wontons are gone.

Add the top and seal it up

Add the top and seal it up

Then boil your pasta water and cook the raviolis. They stick together a bit so you will likely have to cook a few at a time. They are done when they float to the top.

Cook'em up

Cook’em up

I messed the sauce up when I made it. I didn’t use fresh sage, or measure so I used too much. I did however brown the butter like a boss.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli

This is something I will definitely attempt again now that I know more about it. I kept my cooked raviolis in my strainer which caused them to stick together and also left little circle indents on them (as you can see in the photos). But they’re just so easy to make! You can fill them with anything…I can’t wait to whip up some kind of goat cheese raviolis.

On an unrelated note. I recently took an awesome trip to Colorado with my lady friends. We had the best time at C’s house chilling with the fam, eating amazing food, and super fun activities (tour of the Celestial Seasonings Factory, hiking, gun shootin’). C’s mom made us amazing pancakes for breakfast and a tasty lasagna. And her awesome sis and bro-in-law set up a gun range in the backyard for us to try to shoot a few different guns. He even generously let us break in his new toy–the moving target…I totally hit like 5 of them and it was totally awesome. Here are some photos to commemorate the trip.

Celestial Seasonings Tour...sexy hair nets

Celestial Seasonings Tour…sexy hair nets

Hiking around

Hiking around

Shootin' guns like a boss...note the missing nubs from where I blew them away :)

Shootin’ guns like a boss…note the missing nubs from where I blew them away 🙂

The ladies posing with some assault weapons...NBD

The ladies posing with some assault weapons…NBD

Its gettin’ hot in herrrrrrree…

Except seriously.

It is disgustingly hot out this week. It’s 6:45 pm as I write this and it is currently 90F. Annnnnnd this girl has no AC. So basically its the worst lol.

But it has inspired me to share a recipe with you that won’t turn your entire house into an oven. Hooray! and then we can catch up on what’s been new in our lives and reminisce about America’s birthday (happy belated bday Ammurica).

This horrible weather is the PERFECT weather for bustin’ out your crockpot. FACT. Because that biz doesn’t heat your house up AT ALL. I recently busted out mine and made some tasty Crockpot Chicken Fajitas. They are super easy and cheap to make which, in this heat, is a major plus. Also they taste great.

Here’s how you can whip some up for yourself-

Biz you’ll need:

  • boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 4..but it depends on how much you want to make)
  • peppers
  • onion
  • garlic
  • fajita seasoning (or taco seasoning if that’s your jam)
  • optional add ons: black beans, corn, chilis, tomatoes, other veggies/beans
  • other stuff for eating: sour cream, cheese, rice, tortillas

Ok so you start by chopping up your veggies and putting them in the bottom of your crockpot.

I like to cut the veggie into big slices so they are more prominent in the fajitas

I like to cut the veggie into big slices so they are more prominent in the fajitas

Then add your corn/beans/tomatoes if you’re using them. Next place your chicken on the veggies and top with the seasonings.

Chicken and spices on top

Chicken and spices on top

Cook on low for 4 or 6 hours, or high for 8 or 10 (depending on your time frame).  Once done, shred the chicken with a fork. I like mine in bigger chunks so I didn’t shred much…but the chicken is so tender you can shred to your personal preference.

mmm...Fajitas!

mmm…Fajitas!

This ended up being a really great last minute meal planning adventure. I hadn’t decided what to make before going to the grocery store so I just figured I’d just throw something together. Notes on this recipe: its really customizable. I went really minimal with my ingredients because I didn’t plan on making them, so get crazy! Also, I had a lot of liquid at the end, so I did use the cover and sort of strain/dump the extra liquid.

Lunch!

Lunch!

I even brought some leftovers to work for lunch. It’s definitely something I’ll make again.

In other news…America just had another birthday…Yahoo! This time, rather than celebrate in Beantown with the gang like last year, I was in California with some fab ladies for our friend J’s WEDDING!!! I had been looking forward to this trip for months because the 5 of us haven’t all been in the same place since 2008….ew…I’m old. We go way back these ladies and I, we met when we became roomies during our semester abroad in Italy five years ago. Since then, life has spread us all over the place…Cali, Arizona, Boston and London. We rented a house for the wedding long weekend and had the best time. And given the nature of this blog I’ll share some of the food adventures as well as the reunion/wedding magic.

On the 4th we had a bitchin’ BBQ (shout out to grill master F) with carne asada, super spicy corn (that I was too chicken to try), homemade guac, roasted veggies, and tasty stuffed portobello mushrooms. After eating we headed to the fireworks!

Happy Birthday America!!

Happy Birthday America!!

The next day was J and D’s wedding! AHHH. It was so much fun! The bride was beautiful! and obvi I cried like sap lol. I was thrilled to be a part of the magic day and share in the start of the happy couple’s new adventure 🙂 Also, the week I spent with these lovely ladies was a BLAST! It was awesome to get to see them again and catch up face to face on all the amazing things going on in their lives…and meet their special someones (who were such amazing sports during all the reunion craziness! love you guys!).

The Florence Girls <3 #viadelmoro4life

The Florence Girls ❤ and Mr and Mrs B 🙂
#viadelmoro4life

I can’t wait to see everyone again!

I hope you all had an amazing holiday and behaved like true patriots (A’mmmuricaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!)

And good luck with this heat!

Sometimes I Can’t Afford Groceries…

Except seriously.

Sometimes being in your mid-20s can be rough. And sometimes between paying your heating bill (because winter refuses to end), rent, and student loans (cough Sallie Mae sucks cough cough) you just come up short and sacrifices have to be made. Like groceries.

This is one of those moments for me. And I imagine that many of you out there have been in the same position. So I figured I’d share my go to recipe for when your pantry is as empty as your checking account.

This recipe is a simple dish that is perfect when your pantry is particularly low. I call it Fake Mac and Cheese…so called because in reality there is hardly any cheese in it, it just tastes like homemade mac and cheese.

This is really all you need...plus parmesan cheese

This is really all you need…plus parmesan cheese

Here’s what you’ll need:

-Pasta (any kind will do)
-bread crumbs (italian seasoned work best)
-flavored  bouillon cubes (chicken or veggie work well)
-Parmesan cheese

Simple Cook the Pasta with the bouillon cubes

Simple Cook the Pasta with the bouillon cubes

All you do is add the cubes to the water you boil for the pasta. Cooking the pasta in broth adds such a good flavor. When the pasta is drained you add some breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese (almost equal parts). And BOOM. DONE. It tastes almost the same as homemade mac and cheese and involves practically nothing.

Just add the bread crumbs and cheese

Just add the bread crumbs and cheese

Its a step up from just pasta and cheese…especially when you’re like me and ran out of butter…

Boom. You got yourself some fancy poor kid food.

Boom. You got yourself some fancy poor kid food.

And the fact that it tastes great distracts you just a bit from the fact that you’re poor lol.

mmmm…mmmm Appetizers

Well…not JUST appetizers…you could also call them sides. Or ‘small plates’ if you’re being fancy.

So last weekend was the Super Bowl. As my team was not in it, I really had very little interest in watching it. But, never one to pass up a gathering of pals, I went to my friend L’s place for some snacks and the game….aka food, wine, commercials, and BEYONCE (I mean the girl KILLED it right?!).

The other day I had tried out a new recipe for cheesy cauliflower bread sticks and they were super good, so I decided to make it for the Bowl.

Grate the cauliflower

Grate the cauliflower

 

The great thing about this recipe is that its SUPER easy AND its healthy! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup raw cauliflower, grated
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 egg)
  • 1 cup shredded 2% reduced fat mozzarella
  • garlic (to your own tastes)
  • seasonings (salt, pepper….I use Montreal Chicken Spice)

Mix grated Cauliflower, egg, and most of the cheese together. Add the spices. Spray some cooking spray on your pan and spread the mixture over it….try for a thin layer (similar to pizza dough). Bake at 350 for about 30-40 mins. Take it out, top with remaining cheese and cook for 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Then est up!

I didn't have enough cheese so I cut up some string cheese lol...it worked okay

I didn’t have enough cheese so I cut up some string cheese lol…it worked okay

 

Spread into a thin layer.

Spread into a thin layer.

It'll get firmer as it bakes in the oven

It’ll get firmer as it bakes in the oven

Top with the melted cheese. So cheesey and delicious!

Top with the melted cheese. So cheesey and delicious!

We also had some other amazing snacks

medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese, and wrapped in bacon NOM

medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese, and wrapped in bacon NOM

Caramelized onion and goat cheese crostini

Caramelized onion and goat cheese crostini

These crostini are AMAZING. And incredibly addictive. check out the recipe here.

I can’t wait to make these apps again. They work really well for get togethers of all kinds.

 

 

Birthday Cake the Classy Way

So it was recently my college roommates birthday (Happy Birthday Girl!!). My friend C and I decided to make dinner for her, so I offered to make a cake…because as you know, I love birthdays. (Evidence here, here, and here).

I decided to make something from scratch so I searched the interwebs for a recipe I thought was worthy. It didn’t take long to find a good one.

Dry Ingredients

 

Melt the butter, cocoa, and water

Melt the butter, cocoa, and water

How you make buttercream

How you make buttercream

Batter

So the batter is a little more liquid than boxed cake, but I think its because its a fudge cake.

I only have one cake pan….and I thought the batter would all fit. Turns out there’s more than I thought….so rather than double the bake time by using the same pan (no thanks) I had an epiphany. I noticed that a bunt pan is the same circumference! I decided to use my one cake pan and the bunt pan…which would make for a fun layer cake.

Funfetti Frosting Layer...Layer of Champions

Funfetti Frosting Layer…Layer of Champions

Frosted with Vanilla Frosting

Frosted with Vanilla Frosting

30 Minute Chocolate Fudge Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
1 cup water
3 Tbs cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk***
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. In a sauce pan mix cocoa, butter, and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Mix into the dry ingredients. Mix well, once cooled slightly add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 20 mins.

***I made buttermilk by taking just under 1/2 cup milk and adding 1/2 Tbs of lemon juice. Let sit for a couple minutes…and BOOM buttermilk.

Photo by Jenn Sheehan :)

Photo by Jenn Sheehan 🙂

See….it’s a cool effect. If there had been a little more time I would have filled the whole with something…a cupcake, fruit…something. But for this time I left it open.

I did make a fun decorative banner to top the cake though. Here’s how you do it.

What You’ll Need:

fun paper (I used scrapbook paper
skewers
dental floss

Cut out some triangles

Cut out some triangles

I started by folding the edge of the paper over, and cut small triangles.

Then I cut a length of dental floss and tried it to the skewers.

To attach the triangles, I put a dab of glue and placed them over the floss (the glue makes it so they stay). Let it dry and BOOM classy cake decor.

DIY Dry Erase Calendar

The weather recently has been insane. FREEZING. Gross. Silver lining being that it is ideal ‘let’s-stay-inside-all-day-and-do-crafts’ weather. Which is exactly what I did last weekend.

In the interest of full disclosure I should tell you that this is not some original idea that I had. I actually saw it on a few sites (Pinterest, Wanelo, Craft Gawker…).

I liked it instantly because 1. it looks real cool and 2. its SUPER CHEAP to make. What other reasons do you need, right?

Here’s what you’ll need:

-paint swatches (FREE at hardware stores…boom)
-glue
-some fun paper (wrapping paper can work well)
-a frame (Michael’s has some amazing sales)

Got these guys for free at Home Depot

Got these guys for free at Home Depot

I got the paint swatches in order…they are numbered on the top…so I just grabbed a sequence in order. (HINT: grab extras in case you mess up!).

calendar1

Ok so I cut off the top and bottom squares and used the middle ones for the calendar days. I kept the bottom ones though and used them as the days of the week. I had an 11×14 frame…so I had to cut the swatches. I measured them at 1 and 5 8ths (aka 2 lines past 1.52 inches).  I lined the back of my frame with cool wrapping paper for the background.

Glue'em Down

 

Once you cut’em down to size, line them up and glue them down. I cut the very bottom squares that I had saved in half and used them as day of the week markers. I have a bunch of scrap booking materials so I used some stickers I have to write Month. NOTE: the glue makes the card-boardish paint swatches curl a little…so I actually put something heavy on it until it was dry to flatten it.

All Done!

All Done!

 

Once its all dry, I used a silver sharpie to write the days of the week. Then I just put it in the frame ($9.99 at Michael’s). You use the dry erase markers on the glass and BOOM you’re done! Super simple and easy. And you never have to buy a calendar again!

You can alter this project by not using paint swatches and simply making your own fancy/awesome looking white board.

 

Happy Crafting!