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

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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.

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!

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Sunday Funday: Cocktail Edition

Summer is almost over…sigh.

And with the warm weather coming to a close I thought I’d share a fun summer cocktail with you. (Sidenote: this can be made with or without booze)…but when given the option you know I’m bustin’ open the liquor cabinet.

I went to the grocery store this afternoon and strawberries with buy 1 get 1 free…so obviously I got them. I’ve been craving some lemonade recently and decided I could whip something up. I also have a bunch of basil growing in my window garden so I figured I would try my hand at strawberry basil lemonade. I googled it first and found that most recipes required you to make a simple syrup first…pass. Too much work for this kid. Instead I used my roomie’s infuser pitcher and my drink the lazy kid way.

I used a few single serving lemonade packets (3.5 to be accurate) and probably a cup of strawberries and a handful of basil. I let it all marinate for a few hours and then served it over ice with a nice serving of vodka.

Mmmm….tastes like summer.

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Update: I wrote this post last night on my phone (again with the laziness) so I couldn’t add any links.

I made some super tasty lemonade last year as well, check it out here!

There’s Always Time for Chicken

Sorry for such a long break between posts. Things have been a bit hectic lately. I just started a brand new job and have been super busy catching myself up to speed on everything. Overall it’s been great so far and I’m much happier. Hooray for positive life changes!

My final two weeks at my old job corresponded with the Boston Marathon bombings and ensuing search and capture of the suspects. So needless to say it was a stressful period. And then I immediately started my new job…so I got a little overwhelmed and my time in the kitchen dropped significantly. I did make one interesting thing during that period that I wanted to share with you all. Better late than never I guess.

I was feeling broke and lazy so I was particularly interested in finding a crockpot creation. When in doubt I always turn to chicken…its pretty hard to screw up chicken. I did a quick search and settled on a recipe. Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken.

As a note: I didn’t turn to my trusty pals over at Google this time…I went directly to a great crockpot site called Get Crocked. I discovered this site a while back and it has HUNDREDS of amazing crockpot recipes.

I realized that I already had most of the ingredients so I figured it would be a smart try. Here’s what you need:

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

  • ~5-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 c brown sugar (packed)
  • 2/3 c vinegar
  • 1/4 c Sprite (or other similar soda would work too)
  • 2 -3 Tbs garlic
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp pepper

Add the chicken to the bottom of the crockpot. Add everything else together, and pour over chicken. Now, I didn’t really pay attention to the directions (whoopsies) and I added everything separate…I don’t think it makes much difference but it may help to mix it first. Cook for 6-8 hours on high.

I cut my chicken breasts in half...I fit 5.

I cut my chicken breasts in half…I fit 5.

IMG_2296 IMG_2297

After 8 hours I had a lot of sauce…Corn starch thickened it a little.

So I have some mixed feelings about this recipe to be honest. A few things concerned me…such as the fact that mine looked very different from the recipe photo (take a peek here). The photo shows a piece of chicken with a sort of sauce coating. Mine was VERY liquid. I read through the comments (which is SOOO helpful sometimes) and realized that others had this problem too. I added some cornstarch to the sauce at the end to thicken it up. (add a few tbs of cornstarch mixed in water FIRST, then add it to the sauce).

It tasted okay. Its not a recipe I will likely rush to make again, but it wasn’t bad either. Next time I will definitely decrease the liquid ingredients. I served it over rice.

How to Stay In on a Saturday Night…and Not be Super Lame

2012 is all but gone at this point. Tomorrow in New Years Eve. Yikes. That went by real fast right? The thing about this NYE is that its on a Monday…ugh. As it happens, Monday comes right AFTER the weekend. I’ll be the first to admit that while my body may be 25, my mind-body connection is like 65. There’s just no way I could handle ‘going-out’ over the weekend and still be able to function for any semblance of a NYE function. But also, the part of me that knows I’m 25 feels super lame staying in both Friday and Saturday nights.

SPOILER ALERT: I came up with a solution. (Because fortunately I surround myself with friends whose bodies are also no longer 22 and don’t want to rage for 3 nights so close together). I decided to throw a ladies night at my place. I invited a bunch of my gal pals over for some snacks, some booze, and a showing of Pitch Perfect….I also encouraged everyone to wear sweatpants…because thats how I roll.

Punch

 

I was pumped for the opportunity to use my punch bowl that I got back in November. I made a simple budget friendly punch of Svedka Tangerine, pomegranate juice, Sprite and Raspberry Sherbet. So yummy…and also quite boozy so it all works out.

Check out the sweet new triple pot crockpot set I got for Christmas!

Check out the sweet new triple pot crockpot set I got for Christmas! Do you SEE how the lids can hook like that!! and ALL 3 pots have individual controls! Party perfect.

You can’t throw a party without snacks. I made my party a pot-luckish type thing, but I also whipped up a few faves. For something more substancial I made a crockpot full of my lentil chili. I also made this AMAZING dip that I had at my sis’s place about a month ago…Buffalo Chicken Dip.

Now the thing about this dip…and this is going to sound weird so just go with it…is that its almost like you can’t tell what you’re eating. Its super delicious and easy to make. Its creamy and cheesy and is very much like a cheese dip, but its totally not…its chalk full of chicken.

Simple Chocolate Fondue with all the Fixings.

Simple Chocolate Fondue with all the Fixings.

You can’t have a proper ladies night without some sort of chocolate. As I have a fondue pot that’s been itching to be used again, I decided on making a quick chocolate fondue. I also chopped up some strawberries, angel food cake, bananas, and pretzels to dip.

My gal pals also brought a TON of yummy treats to share and I can’t possibly tell you what those were or how to make them right now lol. Needless to say we were STUFFED by the end of the night.

Buffalo Chicken Dip:

3 cans canned chicken (1 large 2 small)
~2/3 bottle Frank’s Biffalo Sauce
~1/2 bottle Blue Cheese Dressing
1 8 0z block cream cheese
~1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese (to top the dip)

Mix all ingredients together, minus the cheese for the top. Bake for around 30 mins on 350, then top with cheese and bake another 5 mins until cheese is melted.

Chocolate Fondue:

2 bags Giradelli chocolate (Bitter-sweet I think)
~2 cups cream

Melt all this in your fondue pot (or over a double boiler if you don’t have one) and EAT IT.

Overall, I had a super fun time with my lady friends sipping on punch, stuffing my face with snacks, and laughing my butt off at Fat Amy.

Fat Amy

A Birthday Surprise…The Easy Way

So you may recall from some of my earlier posts that I love birthdays. I love making birthday treats. Sometimes though, it can be a pain in the a**. For the most part I like things simple. Which is why I really don’t mind using boxed cake mix and store bought frosting as a base (with some exceptions obviously) because you can do lots of things to make your biz unique.

This time around, I was even lazier (and a little bit poorer) than usual. Two of my co-worker pals happen to have the same birthday. So clearly I was going to make them a treat. Things I did not have/ did not feel like buying: eggs and oil. Usually those two guys are pretty essential for a box mix. Not anymore.

All this cake needs is the mix from the box and 10 oz of soda! BOOM. Stupid easy right?! Eggs Schmeggs man.

It looks really cool when you mix in the soda. NOTE: I used Sprite because I was making a white/yellow cake. If you’re making a chocolate or dark cake you can use a darker soda. Or be cool kid and mix like orange soda with a light cake. It also is a big cut to the calories of the cake.

It bakes up nice and fluffy…and you cook it per box instructions…so like 30 mins on 350.

Now my friend T is real into Nutella. She loves it. So since it is part her birthday I decided to make a Nutella frosting. I didn’t really have the time or funds to buys the ingredients for a butter cream from scratch so I checked the interwebs and found a cheat option. Mix a store bought white frosting with an equal part nutella. Its a little thick so I also added some milk to make it smoother. Eye ball that because it will vary based on amount of frosting and the consistency you’re looking for.

Then all that’s left is to frost your biz. The frosting is a little different consistency wise because of the Nutella so its a little thicker, but more durable than regular frosting. When I say durable I mean that should you say.. accidentally slide the finished cake into your electric kettle it really doesn’t even make a dent.

So I wanted to write on the cake. In the end I remembered that I had icing for this exact purpose. However, before my brain started working I attempted to whip up some colored icing to write on the cake…and totally failed and made a big mess lol. I attached a photo so we can all laugh and judge me together lol.

Long story short: Happy Birthday Louis and Tessa (who unfortunately ended up calling in sick and won’t get to eat cake with us 😦  )