Monday, June 30, 2014

365: Week 26

June 23 | So excited for the 4th!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Maybe you know, maybe you don't, but Austin and I are getting married this October.  One of the only easy decisions so far in the planning process was choosing the place where we wanted to get married (Moab, Utah).  However, we didn't know that there was a serious lack of caterers and bakeries in Moab.  Once it came down to planning logistics, things got complicated.
So...we're doing it all ourselves.  My mom is now decorator, invitation-maker, florist, and caterer.  It's going to be hard, but we're going to make it work.  I'm confident it will all come together and be way better than ordering hoagies from the grocery store.

Today, my mom suggested that we should also make the cakes.  My answer was, "No.  Just no."  It's not because I don't think our cake would taste better, I just think we need to draw the line somewhere.  I'm pretty confident we'll have enough stress come October.

If I were to make my own wedding cake though, I'd probably make it with this fresh strawberry frosting.  But no, I'm not going to.  You can't convince me to.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Orzo Salad

It is full on barbecue season!  Days are long and filled with activity.  Vegetables and fruits are fresh and juicy.  And yet, I have a tendency to forget about food during the summer months.  Maybe it's because it does stay light so late.  By the time it's dark, it's bedtime.

So, I either throw something together really quickly or order takeout.  It's really a shame because then I'll spend all winter wishing I had the fresh, brightly colored veggies of the summer.
The exception is really when people are coming over.  And then, you have to make a lot of stuff.  Stuff that can be made ahead of time.  And if you're like me, you're really terrified someone is going to get sick because of the food that you made.  For that, I recommend you stay away from mayonnaise-based salads when you're going to be sitting outside for hours (or when the time could slip away from you).

So basically, this orzo salad is the answer to all your barbecue woes, whether hosting or attending.  As a side dish, this recipe could easily serve 12 and while it's best kept cool, no one is going to die from warm tomatoes and pasta.

Monday, June 23, 2014

365: Week 25

June 16 | Helped build a deck with Austin's brother and sister-in-law in exchange for staying at their house.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Blackberry Mint Margarita

Every time I make a fruity drink, I think about our neighbors in Boulder.  They were pretty much the best neighbors we could have ever asked for.  Scratch that, they were the best neighbors.

When we moved there, we didn't have any friends or really know anyone at all.  I told my mom that our neighbors had invited us to a barbecue or something and she told me, 'be careful making friends with your neighbors, they might end up being around all the time.'
I'll admit it was good advice, but not applicable in this case.  Dan and Allison would come over for dinner and cocktails and still, they're the best neighbors we've ever had and some of the best friends.

I think this drink would be right up their alley.  Fruity and naturally sweetened but definitely still has the kick from the tequila.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blackberry Coconut Smoothie

Last Friday, I surprised Austin by driving out to California with him and staying for a week while he starts his internship.  I've only been to California once before for a wedding.

Because I know really nothing about the state, I just have to go off of stereotypes.  I thought that everyone in California was perfectly tanned and drank fresh juices filled with wheat grass.  Turns out, that's not really the case.  I'm quickly discovering that not everyone's the beacon of health I had in my head.
That's what happens when you only have stereotypes to go off of, but in the scheme of things, those aren't bad preconceptions to have.  In Utah, everyone assumes you're a polygamist and live on a compound :/

I guess my point is that I drink more juice and smoothies than the Californians I've come across so far.  You can pretty much throw any fresh fruits and vegetables into a blender and it'll taste good, but some combinations are better than others.  The combination of blackberries and coconut milk in this smoothie make it sweet and tropical tasting.  I added the banana to give it a little creaminess to the texture and enough ice to make it thick.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Watermelon Margaritas

It's Friday!  In my mind, every Friday is a good enough reason for a celebratory cocktail, but this Friday especially!

Tomorrow morning Austin comes home!...for only one day :(  For this summer, that's all I get to see of him.  He got an opportunity to be a visiting scientist at NASA for a few months.  And obviously, you can't turn down NASA.  You just can't.

But for me that means solo drinking.  Not in an alcoholic way (I hope), just in a beverage appreciation way.  And since tequila is the base of all my favorite drinks, I was pretty sure I'd appreciate this one quite a lot.
This recipe is also great because you can make a whole pitcher at a time.  Just pour and get back to partying.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lasagna Rollups

I really really like meals that you can make ahead of time.  Maybe it's because I'm a morning person, but I would much rather get up at 6am and make lasagna than to start cooking at 6pm.  

I usually get more done before 10am than I do the rest of the day.  Every once in a while, I'll get a late-night surge in activity, but for the most part, I'll be sleeping.  
So for me, crockpots and casseroles really save me so I don't just eat nachos every night.  They're also the key to hosting lots of people.  No one likes to be in the kitchen the whole time friends are over and also no one likes it when your guests wander into the kitchen to see a huge pile of dishes and messes all over the counter.

These lasagna rollups are loaded with fresh zucchini and cheese and totally vegetarian-friendly.  Plus, since they're packaged in pretty little spirals, it's really a step up in the lasagna game that will impress your friends and family.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake

There's really nothing that says summer like strawberry shortcake.  The fresh berries and the light whipped cream make it the perfect dessert to follow any dinner really but especially one sitting outside next to the barbecue.

Technically, it's not summer yet, but it feels like it, and it looks like it, and it even smells like summer so I think we'll just call it.
For being such a simple dessert, you'd think they would all be about the same.  But they're not.  Shortcake recipes tend to leave you with a dry biscuit-like wafer with almost no flavor.  At that point, it's really just a vehicle for the strawberries and whipped cream.

Maybe it's just me, but I think shortcake can serve a bigger purpose.  It could actually taste good too!  It could be moist even!  And this recipe is just that: delicious and moist.  Fluffy and just a little bit vanilla-y.  It'll make you crave warm summer nights even more than you already do.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

This one time, Austin and I were on a ferry making our way back to Split, Croatia from Dubrovnik.  This was while we were backpacking around Europe, and we decided to take the overnight ferry and save on a hotel for a night.  Seemed like a good idea at the time and it did end up giving us some stories, so it probably was worth it.

At the time, we thought, "this will be nice, we'll be able to look out over the sea and enjoy some time on the deck reading and playing cards - we'll make it into a real cruise experience."  Yeah, no.  It was so cold!  We were bundled up in coats, scarves and hats and still could only stand out there for about 5 minutes without freezing.
We couldn't really hang out in our room because the wall-to-wall bunk beds didn't leave a lot of space for loitering around.  So, we went to the dining room to have some dinner and spend the last few of our Kunas (Croatian currency).  After a mediocre meal, the waiter asked if we'd like dessert, as waiters typically do.  The options were some sort of flan thing or 'poundcake.'  Poundcake it is!  We were a little surprised when the waiter brought us a plate of crepes...or 'pancakes.'

I'd pick poundcake over pancakes or crepes every day, but I guess I shouldn't complain - his English was far better than my Croatian!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lemon Scones

I imagine myself sitting out on a patio someday with a group of girlfriends, talking about books, drinking tea, eating scones.  It will be lovely.  Problem is I don't technically have a patio, or a 'group' of girlfriends.  I have tea and scones though!

Maybe I should start bribing people with my baked goods to be friends.  Still doesn't solve the patio problem - but that will come in time, I'm sure.

Scones are about the easiest thing you could bake.  They have so few ingredients, you only use one bowl and there is no waiting for the dough to rise.  That's why it always baffles me that coffee shops all over the place serve dry scones every morning.  I don't get it.  Those won't win you any friends.  These lemon scones will.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Campfire Potatoes

I love love love love love campfires.  I am not the type of person that can just sit idly and stop thinking.  That's why I have to put 'meditation' on my to do list.  Oxymoron?  Yes.
But with a campfire, I can sit for hours and just stare at the flames.  Maybe move some logs around every once in a while, but for the most part it's just a lot of sitting and staring.  I also love the smell of campfire smoke in your clothes and your hair for days to come.  And there's nothing better than food cooked over an open flame.

When we were little, we used to make these campfire potatoes when we'd have fires at my Aunt Linda and Uncle Don's house.  They are so simple (just 4 ingredients, 5 if you count smoke), but taste so amazing!
We used to make them in a tin coffee can, but when I tried to do that this time around, I realized that coffee cans are now cardboard!  Who knew?!  So foil worked just fine.

They take a while to make (about an hour), so make sure you put them in right when you're starting your fire, but it's really more about the experience anyway.  Enjoy the time sitting and staring.

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