Friday, June 28, 2013

Long Island Iced Tea

A couple years ago (has it been that long?), Austin and I drove from Washington DC to Long Island to visit my BFF, Julia.  We paid our 1000's of dollars in tolls, and we dealt with the traffic of DC, Baltimore, and New York - I'm not going to lie, it was a hassle.  A hassle that was totally worth it!  Not only is the little 'village' of Stony Brook beautiful, I don't think I had laughed that hard for years and I know I haven't since then.

Most of our laughter stemmed from watching the people stream out of the bars trying to hail a cab.  Julia's apartment was right on main street so we had pretty prime seating for spectating.

The most entertaining group was 4 or 5 guys, all of whom were wearing khaki cargo shorts, dancing on the side of the street.  They had some pretty crazy, unique moves.  One involved a booty-shaking move that would have made Beyonce proud.  I'll leave that up to your imagination.
I can't say for certain, but I'd guess they were doing a sort of, "when in Rome.." thing.  "When in Long Island, drink a lot of Long Island Iced Tea."  And I mean a lot.  I don't know what I was thinking when I was there, but I didn't even have one.  Maybe people in Long Island don't even drink this.  I can tell you who does though - me, the poolside version of me!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lemon Pie Bars

Austin and I have been trying to swim 3 times a week for the past month or so.  (He decided he wanted to do a triathlon this summer for some crazy reason.)  And while I really like to swim, I still need some motivation to get out of bed at 5:30 a.m., drive to the pool, and jump in cold water.  I need even more motivation to shower with random strangers, but that's beside the point and probably a whole post in and of itself!
When I'm running, sometimes music can be pretty motivating.  The thought that I might see some wildlife out biking, keeps me pedaling.  In the water though, there's not much you can do to keep yourself splashing around.

I've talked about it before, but I use food as a motivation (duh!).  Not just like, "if I swim harder or longer, I can eat more calories throughout the day because I got my workout in," but more in the way of imagining a big piece of pie at the end of the lane or maybe just beyond the reach of my fingertips.  Probably why sometimes my stroke gets a little anxious and desperate.
Because of nostalgia and weird associations, I really only want key lime pie and Propel (like the Gatorade stuff).    I also can only get pumped for swimming by listening to Dixie Chicks and John Mayer (I know).  When I made these Lemon Pie Bars a few weeks ago, memories flooded back and again I found my motivation!  Tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m., you'll find me in the end lane...I'll be the one drooling.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fresh Berry Trifles

I could not be more excited for 4th of July, I mean really, it's not possible.

I've always loved this holiday.  Ever since participating in our neighborhood parade, it's held a soft spot in my heart.  I remember decking out my 10-speed with crepe paper and streamers and cruising around the loop.  We would watch fireworks out on the boat most years.
One year, we got to set off fireworks in our own backyard.  It was supposed to be really fun.  It ended up being a serious fire hazard.  It's all a little hazy (since I was like 6 years old), but what I do remember is my mom shoving me out of the way when the firework started shooting sparks in the wrong direction (toward the house) so she could get to safety.  She's a 'survivor.' :)
Since my crepe paper days, things have gotten a little bigger and a little more alcohol-driven.  Now, we head up to Main Street with some of Austin's "Special Lemonade," to watch the parade, meander from house party to house party.  End up at home for a barbecue and then make our way back uptown to watch the fireworks.  It's a full day's worth of festivities and I love every second of it.  That's why I am so excited because this year we are headed back home again.
To get super pumped, I made these trifles last week.  If you're having people over for a barbecue, make these.  You can even make them ahead of time and put each one in a smaller mason jar, seal them up and just take them out when you're ready.  When you're having people over, let's be real, you have to impress.  I don't know anything that impresses people more than homemade whipped cream AND homemade vanilla pudding!  You're welcome. :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Project 365: Week 25

June 17 | I am soooo ready to go home to celebrate the 4th of July - I made these trifles in anticipation!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

S'mores Brownies

I get a little crazy sometimes.  Just sitting at my desk, my heart will speed up and feel like it's going to bounce out of my ribcage.  I get this overwhelming feeling that I have to get away.  It feels like a life or death situation (exaggerate much?).

Usually, a quick trip up into the mountains for the weekend is all I need to cure me.  Staring into a fire, breathing fresh air, sleeping under the stars, that's it - pretty simple.
So this weekend, I'm getting out.  Only one problem.  There is a fire ban across the entire state.  I mean, I don't want to be the cause of another few hundred homes being destroyed, but I would love to come home smelling like campfire with melted marshmallow fused into my shirtsleeves.
Cooking s'mores over a stove just isn't the same.  Cooking s'mores into your brownies isn't quite the same either, but it's different in a good way.  Basically, it means more chocolate, it's easier to eat, and it still has the perfect flavor combination.  So when you forced to make do, this recipe isn't really much of a sacrifice, after all.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Justin's Salad

When Austin and I lived in DC, we were in the Southeast quadrant.  Anyone who had lived in or visited DC more than 4 or 5 years ago, gasped and stared at us in awe when we told them that.  I guess they were trying to figure out how 2 white kids from Utah survived the experience.
It was described as "up-and-coming" in real estate brochures.  It wasn't exactly unsafe, but at the same time, did I walk alone at night?  No.

One major attraction that the area had was the Nationals Stadium.  The restaurants, stores, and bars were a little slower to follow though.  In fact, we only had one restaurant in our neighborhood.  It was called Justin's.  I never met Justin.  They served pizzas, really really hot wings, a pretty good beer selection, and this salad.  As far as things go, we were pretty lucky - if we were only going to have one restaurant, at least it was a good one.
Everytime we went, I ordered this salad with baby spinach, mozzarella, caramelized onions, fried polenta, and a parmesan vinaigrette.  It never got/gets old.  Figured I had to recreate it since I don't have any plans to visit DC in the middle of summer :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Project 365: Week 24

June 10 | I felt pretty good out on the rock for the first time this summer (and weak).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Raspberry Blackberry Lemonade

It's been really hot here.  Like record-setting hot.  Maybe it's because the whole state of Colorado is on fire?  

Last year around this time, Austin and I had just moved to Boulder.  Our apartment's back deck faces out towards the mountains, so we were able to sit comfortably while we watched the fire that started up on the backside of the Flatirons.  We spent most of our evenings gawking at the helicopters dropping fire retardant and watching pine trees go up in flames through binoculars.
Even though I grew up in another state plagued by wildfires (Utah), that's the closest I've ever been to one - *knock on wood* - I can't imagine being forced to evacuate like all of the people down in Colorado Springs.  Especially after they were hit with such a devastating fire last year too.

We got a little rain last night and hopefully we will get more of that, less lightning.  It didn't bring much relief to the firefighters but it did bring a little break in the heat spell.  For now, all we can do is hope for the best, get out and do some rain dances, keep safe and cool (drinking lemonade?), and of course if you'd like to help out in a more tangible way, donate time, money, or blood to the Red Cross.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Vanilla Bean Madeleines

There are a lot of times when I don't have the right tools for the recipe that I want to make.  Usually, I can get around it.  Use a wooden spoon for a muddler.  A mess of knives instead of a pastry cutter.  Cookie cutter disguised as a biscuit cutter.  Whatever works.
So when Austin asked me to make these madeleines for his mom's birthday - I tried my best to figure out how to get around buying the mold.  We have a small kitchen.  A small kitchen with a disproportionate amount of gadgets, dishes, and pans.  We only have one little, skinny cabinet that will hold pans, wire racks, and cutting boards, so I have to really try not to overextend that too much.

I couldn't figure out a way to get around it.  Now I'll just have to make madeleines more often.  Just have to.
Madeleines are Austin's favorite cookies, so I'm sure he'll be happy about that.  I don't know though because he really really hates putting pans back in that skinny little cabinet.  I don't know if his hatred for that chore outweighs his love for these cookies?  I hope so.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

It seems to me that bacon brings out the strongest of emotions and opinions in people.  Either you love bacon, you hate bacon, or you don't eat bacon.  There aren't many people that are just 'meh' about bacon.
I'm one of the few in this scenario.  I like bacon, but I don't go crazy about it.  At breakfast, I usually order sausage as my side, and I really only like bacon if it's cooked perfectly.  No floppy, rubbery bacon for me.  But when bacon is done right, it is good.  It's really good.  So crunchy and salty and perfect.  And when sweet and salty come together it's a whole new level of perfection!

My sister, on the other hand, loves bacon.  There's no indecision there.  So when she and her husband came to visit a few weeks ago, I had these ready and waiting for them on the counter (sorry for the delayed post!).
The cupcakes and the frosting have the definitive taste of maple syrup throughout and the little bacon crumbles give it just the right amount of saltiness to balance out the sweet.  Plus, you know, they seem gourmet right off the bat.  People will be impressed.  You can even pretend like you jumped on the cupcake bandwagon (a la 'Georgetown Cupcake') if you take the extra time to ice them pretty.  Hey, who knows, maybe you can even get people to give you $5 for just one of these little treats!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Project 365: Week 23

June 3 | It's definitely feeling like summer around here - time for salads for dinner!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Outlaw Lemonade

I don't know what I'm thinking today.  I am posting pictures of lemonade (with whiskey) and NOT pictures of doughnuts!  It's national doughnut (donut?) day today, and I LOVE doughnuts.  I mean, they're my fav.  For real.
I remember making doughnuts out of canned biscuits and then rolling them in cinnamon and sugar when they came out of the fryer.  Burning the roof of my mouth on the hot, fried dough because I couldn't wait even one minute to eat them!

I remember going to the grocery store every night (practically) the first summer that we moved to Utah for a "Dan's Donut Run!"  We would get the "texas donuts" which were the size of a dinner plate, but after seven o'clock all donuts were only a quarter!

And in my college days, I discovered this place in Salt Lake City called "Banbury Cross" and they have the best donuts.  Ever.  I've been known to frequent 'Banbury' on the reg.  The people know me there.  They make me special donuts :)  I wasn't kidding when I said they're my fav.  I actually have a very unhealthy obsession.
So why am I giving you a recipe for a cocktail?  Simple answer: I don't have a deep fryer and heating up oil on the stove scares me.  Last time I did it, I thought I was going to burn the house down.  Cocktails are much less scary - unless you drink the whole pitcher.  That can get scary too.

Please, whatever you do, do NOT drink the pitcher of this Outlaw Lemonade and then heat oil on the stove to celebrate this holiday!  It's definitely a bad idea.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lemon Parsley French Fries

My mom does this thing when she eats french fries.  She eats one fry, then flicks her hand ("to get the salt off").  After every single fry.  It's weird.

I have this thing too.  I don't really like french fries.  It's weird too.  I do love sweet potato fries though. Well, I should say, "I thought I didn't like french fries."  What I really don't like are steak fries (too much potato) and fast food french fries (too much grease).  What I DO like are baked french fries.
Normally, people think of baked french fries as soggy and not as flavorful, well, think again.  These are really crunchy.  They're not too potato-y.  (It's the soaking that does it.)
Another thing about me and french fries: I really only like them if they are dipped in "fry sauce."  Fry sauce is a Utah thing.  It's literally everywhere in Utah (grocery stores, fast food restaurants, regular restaurants), but as soon as you cross the border it disappears and people look at you like you're a crazy person when you ask for it.  Essentially, it's a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise.  Some people like to get fancy with it - I like it with a little italian seasoning.  If you're ever in Utah, you can try it for yourself (be forewarned, you'll never be able to eat a french fry without it again), or you can make it yourself.  It should be light pink/peach colored and the dried italian seasonings really do make a huge difference.
If you're making the fry sauce yourself, you might as well make the french fries too.  Baked fries are so easy and these are extra light and almost refreshing (can a french fry be refreshing?) because of the fresh parsley and lemon juice.  Obviously, they're best right out of the oven!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bar Mix Blondies

I don't spend a lot of time out at the bars.  Probably because I'm not "looking for a mate," as Austin says.  It's kind of weird to go to bars when you're not single.  I mean what do you do.  Just drink I guess.  I feel like you need a game plan, a scheme, and an end goal if you're going to go out though.
If your whole plan is just to drink, then you might as well do that at home.  You don't have to worry about designating drivers or paying for a cab.  It's way cheaper.  The bathroom's not disgusting.

There are a lot of good things to be said about staying home and drinking.
One thing that bars really have going for them is the bar food.  When you're sitting out on your deck drinking a beer, rarely do you find the motivation, ingredients, or time to fry up mozzarella.  Even pretzels and peanuts at a bar taste better than they would if you set them out in a little bowl.  Don't start thinking about how unsanitary that bowl of bar snacks is.  That's a dangerous road to go down.
I think I've found the solution.  If you make these Bar Mix Blondies, then stay home with friends while you imbibe, you really get the best of both worlds.  Also, these have chocolate, so actually it's better than both worlds combined.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Project 365: Week 22

May 27 | One hour and one minute later, we completed "America's Best 10k," the Bolder Boulder.  This picture was after our celebratory beer :)

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