Friday, January 31, 2014

Superbowl Sunday Roundup

The Broncos are going to the Superbowl!  I'm convinced that my sister is rooting for the Seahawks just to be contrarian.  I guess that's good to have opposition in something like this though.

More importantly than who wins or what happens to Bruno Mars' shirt during the halftime show is what you eat.  There have to be lots of snacks that can be thrown into your mouth without looking away from the TV for more than 1/2 a second and there has to be lots of beer.  That's it.
Of course you could just go to the grocery store, pick up a jar of salsa and bust open a bag of chips, or you could make your own corn salsa.
It's also probably a good idea to have some warm food.  Nachos with big pieces of tri-tip - can't really go wrong with that.
Homemade onion dip is kind of a wow factor.  Kind of like how people don't know you can make your own whipped cream ;)

Whatever you do, enjoy the game and make sure you're rooting for the right team!  Go Broncos!
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Elderflower Collins

This has absolutely nothing to do with drinks or elderflowers or 'collinses,' but bear with me anyway.   Last week, Dingo caught a bird!  This bird is probably the brightest, most colorful bird in all of Utah.  It definitely wasn't native to the area.

I know this because it was a parakeet that Austin's parents bought and kept safely stowed away in a cage in their living room for years.  Austin's dad was at home with Dingo when he heard her clomping around in the living room.  After he checked out the situation, he noticed that there were a lot of blue feathers floating around her "toy" that she was "playing" with.  
He got Dingo off the bird and put it back in the cage while it was screaming its head off.  He's quieted down now and seems to be coming out of his shock.  Sure, his tail feathers are gone and he has some ruffled feathers (literally) on his chest, but she didn't kill him!  I call that a win!

I told you this had nothing to do with the pictures or title of this post, but cheers to Dingo for resisting her animal instincts!  Also, if you've never tried St. Germain (Elderflower Liqueur) before, this is an easy, refreshing drink to start with.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Strawberry Banana Bread

Sundance is finally over!  Some people might not be so excited about that fact, and there's probably at least a handful of you out there that don't even know what I'm talking about.  Sundance is a film festival that takes over Park City for 10 days every January.  Full of people "in the industry," wearing all black, drinking no-foam-lattes, and generally getting in the way.
Now that it's over, I can go back to driving myself to work and not paying for parking.  I can also walk down the street without people asking if I've seen any "stars."

Now, the skiers can come back and complain about the snow conditions again.  On second thought, maybe the Sundancers weren't so bad.
When you have to add an extra hour every day to your commute time, your free time suddenly seems so much more valuable.  It's also really hard to squeeze anything fun into it.

Banana bread takes about an hour to make.  An hour that until today, I just didn't have.

This banana bread gets a little nutty flavor (without actual nuts) from the browned butter.  Sweetness from the strawberries and brown sugar, and prettiness from the sliced berries on top.  It's a good one to add to your quick bread rotation...for when you have an extra hour in your day.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Crockpot Chili

Since we've moved back to our hometown of Park City, Utah, I've been working mostly nights.  Up to this point, that mostly means I don't eat much.  I think my stomach has literally shrunk.  I used to really pride myself on how much I could eat and I was never one of those girls that would push their plate away after taking only a few bites and say they "just couldn't possibly take even one more bite."
No, I was the girl that would eat so much that the button on her jeans hurt when she tried to get up from the table.  I'm the one that had to walk bent over at the waist from the restaurant to the car.

Now, I find myself pushing away perfectly good food, grumbling about being full long before clearing my plate, and eating dinners of cheese and crackers.  I feel my energy slipping and I also feel my mood depreciating.
I think it's time I really make friends with my crockpot.  Soon, I'll need to figure out something to make besides soups and stews.  I feel like chili is a pretty good place to start though.  It's meaty and filling and perfect for winter dinners at work.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chocolate Cream Pie

It's really hard to get used to a new kitchen.  Especially, cooking in someone else's kitchen.  I don't know if you've ever really had to do that before, but when you don't know where the spatulas and the mixing bowls are, it's nearly impossible to 'whip up' anything.
When you have to first find a pie plate, then a rolling pin, then a fork, baking a pie shell takes a lot more time than it normally should.  And that's just the crust.  Fillings get even more complicated.

Luckily, when the ingredients and the processes are simple, it makes it all doable.  I've never actually made a chocolate cream pie before and I think I thought it was more complicated than it actually is.  Just break it down though.  There are three parts: 1. Crust 2. Chocolate 3. Cream.  That all seems pretty manageable right?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Onion Dip

When Austin and I were living in Boulder, we got to be Broncos fans.  You pretty much have to jump on the bandwagon if you live there.  It's all anyone talks about on Mondays and the only colors you see are orange and blue.  So, if you want to fit in or make friends at all, you better have something in common to talk about.
Whatever the reason, I'm excited they've made it this far in the playoffs and I don't want to jinx it, but I will be really excited if they make it to the Superbowl.

Most people I talk to watch the Superbowl just for the commercials.  Maybe for the halftime show.  I get that.  And, if I don't like either team playing, that's definitely the only reason I watch.  The main reason I like the Superbowl though is the parties.  And the main reason I like the parties is the food.
I really like onion dip.  Onion dip with some Ruffles can't really be topped.  And sure, I do the sour cream with soup mix stirred into it thing - I'm not above that by any means.  However, after making it from scratch without all the preservatives, I don't know if I'll be able to go back to Lipton.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vegetable Upside Down Cake

It's no secret that I like cake.  I think I've established that already.

Some of you probably think that I am one of those people that has to pinch my nose to eat vegetables though and you would be wrong.  I don't mean to call my readers out or anything.  I'm definitely not trying to alienate you, but I just thought you should know that I actually really do like green things.

Even though it seems like all I eat are cookies, cakes and bread, most of my diet actually does consist of normal food.
When I saw this recipe for vegetable cake (not like carrot cake), I was pretty excited.  When I smelled it baking away in my oven, I was even more excited.  And, when it came out of the pan looking exactly like I had pictured it in my mind, I was beyond excited.

Then, I tasted it, and I loved it!  Imagine a bunch of roasted vegetables with a giant dumpling or biscuit on top.  The cake soaks up some of the juices from the veggies and it is wonderful.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Homemade Grape Soda

Austin and I like to shop at Costco for produce despite the fact that there are only two of us and we can never really eat it all before it spoils.

We try our best to do a good job with planning meals and desserts that will use the whole pallet of berries or case of apples, but there's not really that much we can do with 5 lbs. of grapes.  I learned very young what happens when you eat too many grapes at once so just eating them was out of the question.

So, when I was sitting there with a lot of grapes leftover, I did the natural thing.  I googled "grape recipes."  Did you know you can make a grape pie?  Or did you know that you can make your own grape soda?

Homemade grape soda tastes nothing like that bright purple stuff that comes out of vending machines just FYI.  It tastes like actual grapes.  I guess if you wanted that fake flavor, you could probably throw some purple Jolly Ranchers in there, but I have a feeling you might like this non-artificial flavor better anyway.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

This cake is classified as a "1 bowl" cake which is pretty much a requirement for any recipe that I make.  A recipe better be really good if it's going to require me to wash more dishes than the absolute bare minimum.

That means that all those recipes that say, "sift dry ingredients together; set aside..." never get made.  Or at least, I never follow the directions.  'Cause really the only downside of cooking in my mind is the dishes that come along for the ride.  So, in an effort to create as little hassle while baking as possible, skip all of the sifting and combining, and just throw all the ingredients into your KitchenAid, pour into your cake pans and call it good.
Ok, there's one little disclaimer, you will have to either wash and reuse your mixing bowl or use a second bowl to make the frosting.  But really, 2 bowls for a layer cake made from scratch is not too bad.

Oh yeah, before I forget, let me mention that this cake has a great chocolate flavor.  The type that's not too rich and fudgy but still has plenty of the chocolatey goodness to satisfy your cravings.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

I am generally the type of person that is resistant to change but I'm trying to be more laid back about it and just accept it.  Probably because with everything going on in my life right now, I've been pretty much forced to get used to it.  No use resisting the inevitable right?

I am definitely a routine-oriented person.  I like to get up at about the same time every day, go to the gym, come home and drink my coffee.
The only things that I do like to change up pretty often are my hair (cut and color) and my food.  That's about where my adventurous side stops.

This morning I cut off 3 inches of hair and I made mushroom asparagus risotto!  Crazy, right?!

I guess you'd have to know that I don't like mushrooms to understand why that would be even remotely adventurous for me.  (It's definitely a texture issue.)  So in this risotto, I just chopped up the mushrooms really little so it has all the flavor still but none of the sliminess.

Most of the time, Austin and I eat risotto as a main dish, but you could easily serve this as a side dish alongside any protein really.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

365: Week 1

After some internal debate, I decided that I couldn't just stop taking a picture a day, so I'm doing it again for 2014.  I really like looking back through the pictures that I took in 2013 and I also like the reminder to use my camera as often as possible.  

This year, my goal is to be a little more regimented.  I'm going to follow along with the Capture Your 365 group and also meld their photo ideas with my own.  And this year, I'm trying to use my DSLR more than I did last year (hopefully very few iPhone pictures this time around!).
January 1 | 11:48 p.m. was when I decided I wanted to keep doing this.  It's kind of a picture of 'celebration' I guess.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Asparagus Leek Soup

Every year I make myself a new set of New Year's Resolutions.  I try to diversify them as much as possible.  One is always a fitness/athletic goal (run a half marathon this year!).  One is about a hobby (i.e. read 30 books).  Maybe I'll throw in a professional or a personal resolution too (move back home to Utah).

Last year, one of my resolutions was to complete a 365 project which I actually did!  I had some climbing resolutions which I did not complete, so I'll tack them onto the 2014 list.  I can't remember what else was on the list to be completely honest, but overall, I felt pretty successful in 2013.
This year, I decided I should add a food-related resolution since I spend so much time thinking about food anyway.  Here's what I came up with: experiment with foods that I have never cooked with before (2 times a month).  If they're successful, I'll share them here, but if they're not, well...I won't lead you astray.

When I made this asparagus leek soup, I had to look up youtube videos on how to clean, cut and prepare leeks.  I really didn't even know what they looked like when I went to the grocery store to buy them.  This soup doesn't count towards my goal though since I actually made it in 2013 - just holding myself accountable :)

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