Birthdays Make Me Crafty

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you already know how I feel about birthdays. To sum up for the new kids: I like them a lot. (example, example, example)

I had a string of birthdays recently, and it brought out the craftier side of me that apparently had been napping for the past couple of months. I love a good craft project so I sort of ran with it. It started with my gal L’s birthday. I had planned a specific project for her birthday since it was a milestone year and I was going to visit her in San Fran (read about it here). My plan was to make a scrapbook of her birthday weekend. I prepped the book prior to leaving for the trip and the plan was that I would run to the store, print out the pics, glue’em in (I brought some supplies with me) and I would give it to the birthday girl just before we all left. It was a flawed plan. We were jamming in super fun activities until the moment we left for the airport. So I had to finish it when I got home and mail it instead.

A book to remember our magical weekend gallivanting all over San Fran together and celebrating birthdays.

A book to remember our magical weekend gallivanting all over San Fran together and celebrating birthdays.

Not too long after that came two back to back birthdays. First was one of my best buds C. Second came my co-worker R. I attempted to try something cool for C that I had seen on the internet, and Pinterest, a millions times. An ombre layer cake in a mason jar. All I can say about this endeavor is that it was horrible lol. EPIC PINTEREST FAIL.

UGH...started off decently with the ombre cupcakes. But look at this shizzzz. HORRIBLE.

UGH…started off decently with the ombre cupcakes. But look at this shizzzz. HORRIBLE.

Ugh. Just looking at the picture annoys me. I couldn’t possibly give this monstrosity to C. It ended up in a mushed pile on my counter that was later eaten by my roommate.

I ended up admitting defeat on the whole ombre thing and making a mason jar cake instead. I filled it with some nutella as an added perk. To make it extra special (and because I turned into an unstoppable craft machine for like 2 weeks) I printed out tiny pics of us from our years of friendship and made a little photo-tree topper for the cake.

Apparently we are incapable of making attractive faces.

Apparently we are incapable of making attractive faces.

As you know, I love a good theme. As it happens, my coworker R shares my love of Doctor Who…so it struck me with the idea of making her some Doctor Who cupcakes for her special day. Basically it gave me an excuse to craft and indulge my nerdiness.

The Doctor Who Gang

The Doctor Who Gang

I printed small pictures of each of major characters from the new reboot of the series, including a 3D Tardis so that I could use them as cupcake toppers.

I used my awesome little cupcake screw thingy and filled them with some Tardis blue buttercream icing (recipe from my Gram…thanks Gram).

I got this little tool from some weird Chinese overstock website I found 2 Christmases ago

I got this little tool from some weird Chinese overstock website I found 2 Christmases ago. Icing piped in with my super sophisticated ziplock bag.

Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and blue buttercream filling

Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and blue buttercream filling

All in all, the birthday crafting went over really well. Everyone seemed pretty pleased with their birthday surprises.

Also, if you’re interested in making the white cake the recipe is super simple:

-1.5 c flour
-1 c sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 c milk
-1 3/4 tsp baking powder
-vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Add everything else. Bake for 20-30 mins at 350.

 

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

Fact: I Love Awards Shows.

Fun fact about me: I love award shows. I pretty much love all of them (except the Grammys…that’s not my jam). And guess what was just on?!…The Golden Globes. Of all the award shows the Golden Globes are my fave…it combines everyone worth seeing. TV stars: check. Movie stars: check check. Random musicians: they got’em (I’m looking at you TSwift).

I love the red carpet,

Those ladies, those dresses…THAT FACE! I LOVE IT!

I love the celebrities,

This is definitely one of the greatest moments of any awards show ever

I love the audience reaction shots

Goop is NOT entertained you guys….

…I love all of it.

So obviously I needed to gather than gang to watch this biz last weekend. Plus, its Tina and Amy; how can you NOT watch when they’re hosting?

I decided to make some golden globes for the golden globes….do you see what I did there?…such a clever girl. I decided to whip up some home made cream puffs…also some chips and dip and sangria because…well every party needs a beverage.

Party Punch!

Party Punch! check out this super simple recipe!

But back to the cream puffs. So for Christmas my Gram got me an electric cookie press (poorly named because it does soooo much more than make cookies). Said cookie press makes things like cheese crackers, cream puff, cookies, it frosts cupcakes and fills cream puffs…that kind of thing.

This beast is so much more than a cookie press....

This beast is so much more than a cookie press….

I’ll be honest, it did not go smoothly. Making the puffs themselves is actually pretty simple…except I messed it all up almost immediately. I misread the recipe and like tripled the flour…which incidentally was exactly how much flour I had at the time, meaning I had to RUN to the store for more and restart the dough.

The press came with a little recipe booklet with some decent recipes in it…which is where I got the recipe for the puffs.

Combine 4 Tbs butter and 1/2 c. water in a pan.  Take off heat and add 1/2 c flour. Mix it up until it cools. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time until smooth (like a thick cake batter).

Combine 4 Tbs butter and 1/2 c. water in a pan. Take off heat and add 1/2 c flour. Mix it up until it cools. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time until smooth (like a thick cake batter). Use the press (or spoons) to make 2 inch-ish blobs on your parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  

I had a few issues. The recipe have the wrong baking temperature…so my puffs deflated a bit (womp womp). You need to preheat the oven to 500F, then turn the heat OFF and put the puffs into the hot over for 10 mins. Then turn the heat up to 375 for about another 20 mins.

The primary issue I had was with the press itself. The design of this thing is ridiculous. It’s VERY difficult to fill the press with only yourself…1. it leaks out the tip 2. you have to either put the press in between your legs or (as my gram suggested) use a cup to hold it while you fill it. To me, this is a MAJOR flaw because the time and frustration it took for me to get the first batch of puffs in the over was insane. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ this sh**.

See what a mess this is?! You can see how much leaks out the bottom.

See what a mess this is?! You can see how much leaks out the bottom.

I swear I called my gram no less than 3 times that fateful Sunday when I undertook these globes. I want to love this press but we’re going to have to get to know each other better before I attempt to make anything again.

To make the filling I simply used a box of vanilla instant pudding (made with 1/2 c less milk) mixed with some homemade whipped cream.

To make the filling I simply used a box of vanilla instant pudding (made with 1/2 c less milk) mixed with some homemade whipped cream.

Golden GlobesAll the stress and frustration paid off though, because they tasted like actual cream puffs. And we were able to have our very own golden globes while watching the Golden Globes 🙂

See ya next year ladies.

Fall Food Fiesta Episode 3

I think this will be the last in this fall food series…sigh. Although I haven’t completely resigned myself to starting to cook winter type foods just yet. It feels more like I’m simply refusing to give up apples than anything else lol. Oh well. YOLO. (ugh…I’m THAT girl…)

Basically I’m just obsessed with apples…

In this post I’m sharing two gems with you that I’ve recently discovered…a dinner AND a desert. Boom.

The first I’m going to share with you is somewhat similar to this recipe that I made last year, which I really didn’t care for. So I tried again. Its another attempt at Mac & Cheese with Caramelized Onions, Apple, and Bacon. So many things that I love…apples, cheese, caramelized onions, bacon…This time its all arranged in a way thats more delicious.

I won’t take too much time explaining how to make this recipe because I’ve done it a few times before. So I’ll just explain how to make it different from plain caramelized onion mac and cheese.

Cheesy bacony appley goodness.

Cheesy bacony appley goodness.

To make this you basically just add the bacon and apples to the recipe I linked to above. It’s not difficult. It tasted good. My one note on it was that I used Maple Bacon…which in hind sight was a little off…I think that regular bacon would work best…or maybe smoked.

I also tried my first ever crockpot desert…Crockpot Apple Crisp. Because seriously…how can you not, right? It’s actually really easy to put together. Here’s the biz you’ll need:

  • ~5 granny  apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c butter
Apples on apples...

Apples on apples…Put your peeled and sliced apples in your crockpot and coat with lemon juice.

steps 2 and 3

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, oatmeal). Then cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or some forks. Then top the apples with your crumb mixture.

Crock on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until apples are tender.

Crock on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until apples are tender.

After it cools down a little serve that biz with ice cream and EAT UP.

After it cools down a little serve that biz with ice cream and EAT UP.

This recipe will make your house smell AMAZING. A substitution I made was to use about half the oatmeal and use cereal for the other half (Special K Vanilla Almond to be specific, but anything corn flake-like will do). I mixed the crumbs into the apples rather than let it just sit on top so it did make the consistency a little different (not much of a crunchy top) but it still tasted good. You can also add pecans like the original recipe calls for.

When I make this recipe again I will consider using one of those crockpot liners because this was a little bit of a pain to clean up…worth it…but still work.

FUN ACTIVITY ALERT: My lady pals and I had a fun adventure a couple weekends ago so I figured I’d share it. We went to our first ever Blacklight 5K. It was SO FUN. It’s basically the Color Run except its a night and the colors glow under blacklight. It was most definitely NOT 5K…I’d guess it was maybe like 1.5 miles and in terms of logistics it was a bit of a shit show but it was still super fun to walk (running for fun is not my jam) and there was a big dance party at the end and they were throwing tons of color into the crowd.

The Before and After shot

The Before and After shot

I think I may have gotten some color on me....

I think I may have gotten some color on me….

 

What fall foods will you miss most?

 

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

Birthdays on Birthdays….A Story of Two Cakes

Once again, I’ve waited forever to write a post. I’d say sorry, but its been a pretty shitty month in so mannny ways that I’m really not sorry. I had other biz to deal with. BUT…the winds are changing, so to speak, so I’ll fill you in on some the kitchen shenanigans I’ve been getting myself into these days.

There have been a few birthdays this month! and lord knows I love a good birthday celebration (example, other example, one more). This past month had not one but TWO birthdays to celebrate. So let me begin the story of two cakes.

Once upon a time…I had a terrible job (in part I’m joking but I’m mostly serious). And at that job I met some people…some of them were great. One such lady was my pal KT (check out her super gay blog and her adorable dog blog). KT had a birthday at the beginning of the month and I got to make her a celebratory cake–a Blueberry Cream Cheese Layer Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting…yup, I got classy this with this one (click for the full recipe from Veggie and the Beast).

Kt's cake

I won’t walk you through the play by play…mostly because I have no visuals, but I WILL give you some best practices. First, this cake is WORK…if you don’t have a mixer, maybe rethink making it. Personally, I do not have a mixer and I was having some challenges. Additionally, if you have never browned butter before, maybe google it first so you know what you’re looking for. Overall the cake was a big success, but maybe the birthday girl will comment her thoughts (not so subtle hint for you to comment on this post KT).

The second birthday gal and I go wayyyyyy back…like 26 years back. Because the birthday girl was my Mom! Dear old (practically ancient at this point) Ma got yet another year older. I won’t invade her privacy by putting a number on it…but in a few years when she turns 50 I tend to tell the world lol. (Love you momma).

I had a few days off work (Jewish Holidays woot woot) so I decided to head to the homestead to celebrate in person. As my sis is currently living the high life in the Dhabs I was reppin’ for the both of us. And I feel like I nailed it.

When asked for her preference of cake my mother was fairly vague…something chocolate. So some quality time spent with google resulted in finding the perfect recipe. It’s super moist…to the point you think you made it wrong. But it totally turns out great.

Look how great they look

Look how great they look

So my gram has an electric mixer. It makes baking cakes and making frosting SO MUCH better. I did a quick google search for frosting because the cake recipe author “didn’t record any measurements”…ok….But it’s super easy. I’m pretty sure I used this guy.

Why don't I have a mixer?!

Why don’t I have a mixer?!

A perfectly respectable looking cake

A perfectly respectable looking cake

So I frosted the cake and was pretty happy…I mean, look at how symmetrical it is! But I just felt like it was too “every day” to be my mom’s birthday cake….so I decided to spice it up…and maybe it got a little out of hand.

So maybe I went a little extreme...

So maybe I went a little extreme…

This was the final product. I assume it was satisfactory as there was none left the next day.

But here are some celebration pics! (in case you want to pretend you were there)

Look who made it on the blog! welcome to the internet mamma

Look who made it on the blog! welcome to the internet mamma

ugh happy couples...if I didn't like them so much I'd punch them lol

ugh happy couples…if I didn’t like these two so much I’d punch them lol

Also, I would be remiss to NOT introduce you to the best addition to my life: Frizz…aka Ms Frizzle. She is KT’s puppy and I love her. Like so much…and those of you who know me in real life know how rare that is.

Frizz loves to give kisses...just LOOK AT HER!! Gah I love it

Frizz loves to give kisses…just LOOK AT HER!! Gah I love it

ALSO I have an update for you! in my last post I told you all about how I was a beast and put up my curtains. Well I totally jazzed them up and now they’re AWESOME!

lights

The Labors of My Labor Day

I’m gonna be honest…I did ALMOST nothing this holiday weekend. I had plans…plans involving sitting poolside working on my tan.

Expectation

But the weather simply did not cooperate. So rather than chill out poolside it changed to me on the couch. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Reality

It was a good time though. I did do a few things so I figured I may as well share them with all of you.

I recently acquired a Wii (shout out to my sis for moving to Abu Dhabi…aka the Dhabs). Which means this gal now can watch Netflix on the TV!! BOOM. Game Changer. So this long weekend of crappy weather gave me the perfect opportunity to break it in. So maybe I watched more movies than I care to publicly announce on Saturday, but I did manage to get one of my best gals C over for a Sunday Funday movie marathon.
In between movies we got a case of the hungries so we decided to make some food. We settled on pasta with a white wine sauce. A quick convo with Google later we headed to the shops to pick up the few things we needed to make our masterpiece a reality.
Pasta with White Wine Sauce:
Penne with White Wine Sauce
  • Pasta (we used tri-colored penne)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, rough chopped (we used onion bc that’s what I had…and I chopped it finely)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

You start by sautéing the finely chopped onion with the olive oil. Then we poured in the wine and let it boil. NOW: the recipe said to let it reduce…but we were hungry and tipsy so we didn’t…we just let it boil. Then add the butter until it melts. Take the sauce off the heat and add the lemon juice and parsley (which we took from my herb garden). Then we poured the sauce over our cooked pasta and grated some fresh cheese over it…NOM NOM.

tri-colored is so fun to look at

tri-colored is so fun to look at

 

White Wine Sauce

White Wine Sauce

NOTE: while cooking we were drinking….and we were pretty buzzed. So we didn’t super follow the recipe as written…in that we 1. did not let the white wine reduce at all, 2. did not strain the onion from the sauce, 3. we added garlic and pepper, and 4. we thought that maybe it wouldn’t make enough sauce so we pretty much doubled everything…”lets just add more wine…yeah…and more butter!”…It was really good though. The lemon juice gives it a nice fresh taste.

Since we were at the grocery store anyways, C had the brilliant idea of making some beverages…specifically White Russians. It was a truly excellent idea. So if you’re like me, and have no idea how to make them and don’t feel like asking Google I thought I’d share that as well.

Cocktail Corner: White Russians

-Ice
-Kahlua
-Skim Milk
-Vodka

Put Ice in your glass. Add a shot of vodka and a shot of Kahlua. Top with milk. Stir.

DRINK UP!

Gettin' our drink onnnn....and our cook on

Gettin’ our drink onnnn….and our cook on

All in all I’d say it was a perfect Sunday Funday.

Monday it was more of the same….Les Miserables was on HBO so OBVIOUSLY I had to watch it. But I did take a break from being epically lazy to grab a frozen treat with KT (check her out!!) and stop by Target. I found some cheap curtains ($5!!) for my living room and immediately needed to hang them….and I did. LIKE A BOSS. This girl doesn’t even have a drill….just my raw physical power. BOOM.

Put these guys up with my own 2 hands!

Put these guys up with my own 2 hands!

Happy Labor Day everyone!