Thursday, October 31, 2013

Baked Raspberry French Toast

Are you dressed up right now?  What are you?  I want to see a picture.

I don't have a costume this year, but guess who does?!  That's right the Dingo does!  She's going as a giraffe this year.  It's pretty adorable and she loves wearing you can imagine.
Halloween is a pretty fun holiday...I guess.  I just kind of lost interest when people stopped giving me free candy just for ringing their doorbell.  Once you're older, you're expected to dress up like some sort of themed slut - not only not my style, but also, it's cold the last day of October.  In the past, we have done some Halloween climbing competitions, we have gone to Halloween parties and we've carved pumpkins with spiked apple cider (actually, we did that last weekend).
It's all good stuff, but what I really like about Halloween is that it means we're getting dangerously close to the "holiday season!"  It's that time of year for lots of sweets and carbs...and big sweaters (coincidence?).

I love to start my day out with sweets and carbs and then just continue that trend right on into bedtime.  Don't judge me with your smoothie.
This french toast is definitely sweet.  It's also got raspberries, so it's, um, healthy.  You can make it the night before, let all the custard soak in and then bake it in the morning.

If you are a weirdo and you don't like sweets for breakfast, then you could just swap out the words "french toast" and plug in "bread pudding" and you can have dessert!  Problem solved.  You're welcome.  What I'm saying is, there's no reason you shouldn't be pinning this recipe maybe for Christmas morning or Christmas dessert...or a lazy Sunday morning.  Just pin it.  Just eat it!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vanilla Caramel Apples

Saturday night, 6 cars in our neighborhood (including our friend's) got broken into.  It feels like a pretty safe neighborhood and it's in a safe town.  And while I'm not really concerned for my safety, I don't like the idea of people inside Sheldon (my car) without my permission.
I don't know if I just watch too much Law & Order or if the world really is more dangerous, but I wish it wasn't.  When I was little, my grandma used to make caramel apples to hand out to the kiddos in the neighborhood on Halloween.  Granted, it was a very small town and everyone literally knew everyone else, but still no one was afraid the little old lady at the end of the road was hiding razor blades in their apples.

I'm not at all suggesting that you should stop being concerned about little old ladies, I'm just saying if someone handed me a caramel apple, I wish I could eat it without concern of being poisoned or cut.  That's all.
And since at this point in American history, we cannot go around accepting food from strangers, we have to rely on ourselves to satisfy our own caramel apple cravings.  I left my caramel apples plain, but especially if you are making this with or for kids, you'll probably want to dip them in candy, nuts, crumbled cookies or chocolate.  It's choose your own adventure style.

Friday, October 25, 2013

What to Bring to a Party?

This morning, my sister asked me what she should bring to a Halloween party this weekend.  I don't think I helped her out that much, but maybe I can help you if you're in the same position.  Sure you could buy some dip and pour it into a fancy dish, pretend like you made it yourself, and accept all of the compliments.  Or, you could actually make it yourself, display it on a fancy dish, and accept all the compliments.  Doesn't seem like a big difference, but it is :)
If you're looking for a snack or appetizer that goes a little beyond onion dip, try some homemade spinach artichoke dip, or maybe this hummus.  Or maybe dip's really not your thing?  How about some crostini?  You could assemble these nachos ahead of time and throw them in the host's oven for a few minutes!  Hot, melty nachos!  People will definitely talk about you (in a good way) on their way home!
Sometimes you're given a task though.  You don't get to just pick whatever sounds good to you.  It definitely has it's positives and negatives - you don't have to think about it as much, but also maybe you don't like salads?  If "Salad" is the task you've been assigned, think about making this kale & brussels sprouts salad which you could make hours beforehand.  I don't think anyone could not like Justin's Salad.  If you want something more seasonal, how about a fresh, green salad with cranberries and pears?

And then, if you have a food blog and you've really made yourself known for your baking, you are only asked to bring dessert.  Which is usually a problem of too many options, not a problem of coming up with an idea.  So really it depends on the type of party.  Are people sitting down, are they gathered around a TV watching football or are they going to be standing, holding plates of food in their hands?
Let's start with hand food: there are always cookies and brownies.  Never a bad option.  Lemon Pie Bars are definitely portable.  So are Pumpkin Bars.
You will for sure impress with Maple Bacon Cupcakes (which now that I think about it, people could probably eat while standing up too).  Because it's October, you better be bringing a pumpkin pie.  You just better.
And then what if you're hosting?  I don't know - it's overwhelming.  I'm sorry, I've got nothing for you.  Just don't forget the cocktails!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Crispy Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are the type of cookies that are really good right out of the oven - like every cookie.  But, unlike every cookie, these are also really good later.  Once they've cooled down, they stay crispy but not hard.  The marshmallows keep the centers a little chewy, the Special K cereal keeps the outside crunchy.  The chocolate chips keep them from going stale (they'll never last that long!).
These are exactly the type of cookie that I make around 10:00 at night.  A while after I've had dinner, watching TV, I usually get the feeling that I need something sweet.  Just so, you know, I can go to sleep satisfied.

Rarely will a piece of chocolate or a store bought cookie do the trick.  It's not just anything sweet, it has to be sweet and delicious!

So at this point, I will get up from whatever I'm watching, quickly mix up a batch of cookies, finish the show while I'm waiting for the oven timer to go off, then I eat 1 or 2 or 3 and go to bed totally, completely satisfied.  (I think this is something I picked up from my dad.)  The next day, eat a couple more and love them just as much!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings

Mondays are hard.  I think we've established that already.  This Monday has been even harder than normal.  Largely due to the fact that I took allergy medication before going to bed last night.  I had some seriously crazy dreams, slept through my alarm, was already running late to work and then ran out to the car to find it encased in ice.
After scraping and scraping and scraping, I finally made a big enough porthole that I could see through.  Made it to work safely and then the drowsiness from the allergy meds kicked in.

There's plenty of time left for things to get harder or easier, but I'm really hoping that it gets easier.  For that reason, we're having leftover soup for dinner.
Luckily, this soup is pretty easy the first time around too.  I don't mind spending some time in the kitchen, getting dishes and my hands dirty a lot of days, but Mondays rarely inspire me to stand over the stove or wait for something to come out of the oven.  Weeknight meals need to be satisfying and easy...that's it.  Hence the number of tacos Austin and I consume :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Project 365: Week 42

October 14 | Said goodbye to the whole Coates clan before Dingo and I drove back home by ourselves.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kraken Cocktail

Today's a big day.  No, I'm not talking about the late night, last minute decision to keep the US economy alive, I'm talking about my blog anniversary!  This occasion is a big deal (for no one else but me).

2 years ago today, I bought my domain name and started committing myself to posting 2-3 recipes a week.
Not a lot has really changed around here since then, but I like to think my pictures have gotten a little better, I drink more cocktails, and I cook savory dishes more often (even I can't eat that many sweets).  Now, people besides my family, stop in to read more often and every once in a while, a recipe of mine will be featured on another site.

Most importantly, 2 years later I still love doing it.  I love making the food, taking the pictures, writing the words.  I love all of it.  And I love love love that you pop in to read what I have to say, look at the pictures, and sometimes bookmark/pin the recipes and try them out!  Thank you!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin Ravioli

I spent this past weekend with Austin's family down in Moab, Utah.  I know a lot of people like to complain about their in-laws, but you're not going to hear it from me (I know, they're technically not in-laws).  Since Austin and I started dating just shortly after we started driving, I feel like I really grew up with his family too.  I feel comfortable around them.  And living in DC and now Boulder, I miss being around them.
Which is one reason why I really really love fall.  If it's fall, it means it's almost time for the holidays.  And if it's time for the holidays, it's time to go home and visit family - my own and Austin's!

So I fully embrace fall.  I love the leaves changing color, the crisp air, and the comfort food!  I start to cook almost exclusively with apples, sweet potatoes, and cranberries.  I also consume most meals in soup form.  I take more time out of the day to just sit and relax while watching a football/hockey game or reading a book.
While during the summer, you would be pretty hard-pressed to get me to spend more than 1 hour to make dinner because I "should" be outside doing "something else;" in the fall, I will gladly pinch together little raviolis stuffed with pumpkin filling with music in the background for hours on end.

Not that these raviolis will actually take you that long.  Because you can just use wonton wrappers from your grocery store (I found them by the fresh herbs and mushrooms), you can cut out the biggest hassle: making your own pasta.  And also, I'm probably just slow at pinching them together.  You'll do better, I know it!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

I notice a lot of recipes around on the blogosphere that take a classic recipe and then they're tweaked somehow.  IMO, it's a little unnecessary.  Not every recipe needs to have goat cheese and avocado in it.  Some recipes are your favorites just because they're classics - and they're classics because they're perfect the way they are.  Just leave them be.

That's definitely how I feel/felt about apple pie.  I love it just the way it is.  It will always be one of my favorite pies and if it didn't require peeling all the apples, I would probably always have one on hand.
So when I came across this recipe for apple pie with not just caramel, but salted caramel, I was a little hesitant.  I gave in, and was really good too.  It's probably best to just treat them as separate things altogether though.  That way you won't feel like you're betraying your oldie but (ridiculously) goodie.

This pie takes an extra step or two to make the caramel so you may decide not to make it quite as often, but when you're hosting friends or having a special family gathering, it's probably worth it.  It's definitely worth it.

I will warn you, when you are done making the caramel and you dip your finger in to taste it - because we all know you will, and it will hurt, because it's hot - it will taste really salty.  You're going to think, it's too salty.  Don't worry though!  Don't add more sugar!  Don't throw it away!  When you add it on top of the apples and when you drizzle some extra over the top, it will balance out perfectly :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chicken Caesar Salad

Sorry for the digression from pumpkin based dishes here.  I know we're all ready for sweaters and layers and eating comfort food all the time, but I've been sick and craving vegetables.  But since you know me and I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not in front of you, I'll come out with it: even when I eat "healthy," it's not really healthy.
When I order salads, it's got lots of caesar or bleu cheese dressing.  Definitely croutons.  Not too many carrots.  Probably cheese.  Definitely cheese.  Yes, even if I get bleu cheese dressing, I still get extra cheese.

Who are those people that order a salad "dry" or with a "squeeze of lemon?!?!"  I'm sorry, but that's crazy.  I know I'm not offending you either, because you obviously wouldn't be reading my blog if you only eat lettuce like a rabbit.  Well, maybe you're into torturing yourself?
Point is, I am the person that will get up to run at 5:00 a.m. and be back to the house before the sun has come up just to make up for the fact that I really like cheese.  And cake :)  And when I want to be healthy, I really am just pretending by ordering a chicken caesar salad (with extra parmesan sprinkled on top!).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Recovery Smoothie

I'm getting sick again.  You know that feeling in the back of your throat and nose when it starts?  The feeling that you can ignore for a really long time and somehow that seems to hold it off.  But then, I don't know exactly why it happens, but as soon as you relax, that's when it hits you full on.
Yesterday, instead of coming home and cleaning or working or cooking, I read a book.  Big mistake.  This morning, I woke up with a much more conspicuous sick feeling.  And then I made an even bigger mistake - I acknowledged it.

There's no coming back now.  The time for prevention has come and gone, now I have to attack it head on.  There are about a bajillion different "remedies" for a cold but it seems to me the best solution is lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you have something better, please let me know :)

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