Monday, December 5, 2011

Home Made by Yvette Van Boven

I'm a sucker for cute fonts.  Does that sound weird?  I guess it kind of is.  I think it's just that I like words, and I also like cute things, so words that look cute make for a winning combination!  If you are still feeling skeptical, I invite you to take a look at the movie Juno.  Would that movie have been nearly as delightful without all the interludes of artistic doodley fonts informing the watcher what season it is in a certain scene or what trimester Juno is currently in or whatever?  I think not!  But now even I can tell I'm just not making any sense.  Let's move on.  As I wasted valuable hours of my life shopping online for apartment things that I do not need and cannot afford, the super cute font/cover of this cookbook attracted my eyeballs.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Veritable Vegetable Paradise!

Things I did this week:
1. Wrote 5...thousand papers for class
2. holed up in a coffee shop all week with my face in my computer and a pastry in my hand
3. ate nothing but coffee shop pastries for dinner every single day
4. went to the twilight: breaking dawn midnight premiere (am I proud of this? I am not. I am seriously, seriously not. But omitting this from my list of the week's activities would basically be like telling a lie...and then I would have to live with the repercussions of that decision forever. The repercussions, I guess, being that you would probably never have to know where I was the night of Thursday, November 17, 2011. huh. Well, I guess what's done is done, and it cannot be untyped.)
5. wished it was thanksgiving break

Now, it is thanksgiving break! It really, really is! And let me tell you, it is everything I imagined it could ever be. I would make you a list of things I have done so far over break, but it would be less of a list and more of a statement that I slept for like 12 hours was beautiful. I kind of wanted to write a poem about it. Then I realized that would have been super weird and creepy, so instead I used my newfound energy this morning to cook up all the veggies in my fridge that I didn't eat this week while I was munching on chocolate chip scones in various cafes across Boulder. The pastry muncher strikes again! Anyway, after 3 sweet potatoes, 2 apples, a whooooole lotta carrots, and some zucchinis, scurvy has officially been averted!

In case you just powered through an "I'll sleep when I'm dead...which is now" kind of stressful week too, I wanted to share the recipes for the (kinda) healthy stuff I made with you. You know, to bring the bounce back into your step and the sparkle into your smile and all that good stuff(not that your smile doesn't totally does)--think of it as a "post chocolate chip scone binge, pre-thanksgiving stuffing binge" shock o' healthy greens and vitamins to your system.

Also, I made a playlist! It's for chillin' out, mostly. It contains none of the songs from the Twilight soundtrack, even though it's kind of good.

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon
Recipe from Epicurious
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium carrots, peeled, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 3 cups (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 small carrot, peeled, grated
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add chopped carrots, tomatoes and lemon peel; sauté 1 minute. Add 3 cups stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
Puree soup in batches in blender. Return soup to pot. Mix in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more stock, if desired. Ladle into bowls. Top each with sour cream and grated carrot.

Zucchini Carrot Muffins
Recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen
Makes 6 muffins
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 large Egg
1 cup grated Zucchini
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Whisk together sugar, oil, salt, and egg.  Add the zucchini and carrots.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, then add them to the zucchini and carrot mixture.  Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake at 375F for 18-25 minutes.

Sweet Potato Chips
3 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
(I kind of just winged the spices, it's really just however much you like)

Peel and slice sweet potatoes into very thin strips-- about 1/8 inch.  Mix olive oil and spices together, toss with sweet potatoes.  Place slices on a cookie sheet and bake at 375F until top begins to brown and look crisp, then flip the slices and continue to bake.  Remove when chips are crispy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Made in Iceland

Earlier today, as I perused my closet for that perfect oversized, warm, comfy top that is also miraculously cute (A constant goal which I feel is attainable for other people, but in my case it is always somehow either comfortable but frumpy or super cute and uncomfortable in some way...ah well), I stumbled upon a previously forgotten treasure--my Icelandic sweater, which I purchased while I was in--you guessed it--Iceland this past summer!  As I marveled at the perfection of this wooly masterpiece and it's ability to actually both feel like wearing a blanket and also not make me look homeless, I got lost in a whirlwind of nostalgia over the total awesomeness that is Iceland.  A whirlwind I tell you! Then I found this video!  And that's where this ramble  was leading watch it!  Such pretty filming, and so brave and amazing of this girl to hike across Iceland on her own.  What a crazy, life-changing experience that must have been.

MADE IN ICELAND from Klara Harden on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mint Julep Brownie Bars

I am constantly striving in my day to day life to channel my inner elderly cat lady.  A lot of people dread the things that come with being old-- the day when they can no longer run marathons because of their osteoporosis, or swim great distances because of their creaky joints.  Not me, I say bring it on, because there are a lot of perks that I feel people don't really consider when they think about the horrors of becoming old.  For example, senior discounts at movies and the zoo.  Also, the ability to wear pastel pantsuits and look sassy doing it. When I finally reach my 65th birthday and can officially qualify as a senior citizen, I will triumphantly turn to my 17 cats and say, "look what we have become! we have waited so long to graduate from 'just that weird lady on the block who wanders around with her cats and doesn't appear to have a job' to real live authentic 'crazy cat lady and her trusty cats.'  My friends, that day has finally arrived!"

Ok, was that too much?  Maybe.  Ok definitely.  But really, people have informed me on various occasions that I am very possibly an eighty year old woman in a college student's body(usually in reference to my creaky knees, my deep love for fluffy pets of the feline variety, my obsession with being gramatically correct and obnoxiously correcting people for their grammar mistakes, and my constant baking habits), and I kind of take that as a compliment(whether it is meant to be one or not).  So on this particular weekend afternoon, I was pondering just exactly how to channel my inner grandmotherliness.  As I ransacked my house for ideas, surveying my almost empty fridge(I need to go grocery shopping stat!) it came to me in an epiphany, almost as if a lightning bolt from the sky came down and struck me with the answer- Mint Juleps, anyone? Despite the fact that I have no background whatsoever on mint juleps except that they are a popular beverage during the kentucky derby, I suddenly imagined myself in old age, sitting on a wicker chair on my porch in early summer, sipping on a refreshing mint julep in a silver cup and laughing with my best friends (pretty much the cast of Golden Girls).  Unfortunately, the illusion was shattered as I gazed out my window and realized I would not be sitting on my porch enjoying an icy drink anytime soon, as snow was flurrying about and accumulating on the ground in a somewhat alarming and blizzard-esque manner.  However, still craving a mint julep, I set out to create the perfect combination of refreshing summer beverage and cold weather treat, and that is how these brownies were born!

Mint Julep Brownie Bars

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup bourbon

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup mint leaves

combine the 1/3 cup butter, sugar and water; cook and stir over medium heat just until boiling, remove from heat, add the 1 cup of chocolate chips; stir until chocolate is melted. Let cool for a bit, stir in vanilla, bourbon, and eggs.  Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Spread into an 8 x 8 pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean, springy on top, you know the drill! let cool.
For the icing/glaze, combine 2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water, along with mint leaves, until sugar is completely dissolved.  Strain to remove the mint leaves and spread the glaze over brownies(when this cools, it gives the brownies a kind of crispy, minty coating that is sooo good!)
easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Weekend's Success Stories

This weekend/week was filled with a lot of baking, as I sought to avoid the more unpleasant aspects of everyday life/the outside world in general (hundreds of pages of Freud for class, an equally unreasonable number of screaming 7 year olds celebrating birthdays at the pottery shop where I work, the frosty weather beginning to set in, you get the picture.)  I experimented with three different lemon muffin recipes, all delicious, but the one below DEFINITELY beat the others out...soooo good.  I also frequented a new Boulder restaurant, Snooze, where what must be the best breakfast food in the whole world is served into the late afternoon (umm...hellooo pineapple upside down pancakes!) And the week's final success story is the butternut squash pizza that Ben and I made-- I had my doubts, but it turned out scrumptiously!

 Caprese Benedict at Snooze.  Seriously, NOTHING could be better on a Saturday morning.

The Buttenut Squash Pizza.  We bought a crust, but it would have been so much better with a homemade one--definitely an improvement for next time.  Here's the recipe, adapted from this one, but with a few changes:

Butternut Squash Pizza

2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 ball (16 ounces) store-bought whole-wheat pizza dough, at room temperature
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 ounces grated parmesan cheese
sprinkling of parsley

Heat oven to 400°. Heat pizza stone on bottom rack (or use an inverted 11" x 16" cookie sheet, not heated). Toss squash with 1 teaspoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. On a baking sheet, cook squash until soft and lightly browned, 25 minutes, stirring halfway through; set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cook onion (season with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper), stirring, until light brown, 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water; cook, stirring, until brown, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Turn oven up to 450°. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface. Press dough into a 15-inch circle or 10" x 16" rectangle. Top with squash, onion, spinach, cheeses and thyme. Dust stone or inverted sheet with flour; place pizza on it. Bake until crust is crispy and cheese melts, 10 to 12 minutes.

Here's the best of the three lemon muffins I tried making.  The other two recipes had berries in them as well, but this one was just plain lemon.  I guess sometimes simplicity is best! It was also quite literally the first thing that came up when I googled "lemon muffin recipe" and for good reason-- everyone should be subjected to the deliciousness that is these muffins (and also the hilarity that is Jolie Kerr, the writer of the recipe/ article).
Here's the recipe, in all it's zesty, yellowy glory!
Recipe from The Awl.

Lemon Muffins

1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup of sugar
grated zest of one lemon
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

For lemon glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
juice of one large lemon

Mix together the butter, sugar, zest, eggs and milk.  Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour into lined muffin tins and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Remove when just slightly golden brown on top/ a toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool, then poke a few holes into the tops of each muffin.  Heat the 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice in a pan until the sugar dissolves, then pour onto the muffins (waiting, perhaps, for a few minutes to let the sugar mixture cool down from it's molten lava-esque temperature so that you don't bite excitedly into the center of the muffin only to burn the bejeezus out of your tongue/general mouth area and then roll around on the floor screaming for the next five minutes.  I am not saying this from experience or anything, I am just giving fair warning that this could easily happen and you might not expect it and totally embarrass yourself in front of your boyfriend.  I'm just looking out for you, ok?).  Anyway, the holes in the tops of the muffins are not super attractive, but when the muffins are this good, no one will care!  But if it really bugs you, you could always cover them up with some kind of fancy garnish like a lemon slice and a sprig of mint or something.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

And Then There Were Pumpkins!

Remember how I said I love fall?  Ok well I forgot to mention another great thing about fall, which is pumpkin EVERYTHING! which was the theme of this weekend.  Ben and I headed over to a pumpkin patch(complete with petting zoo AND corn maze...could you ask for more?) and admired some pumpkins...but didn't actually buy any because we were both broke.  But hey, it was the principle of the thing.  Plus the adorable stumpy pony in the petting zoo made it all worthwhile.  And since we are the kind of people who would rather hole up and bake on the weekends instead of, you know, leaving the house and doing other stuff, that is exactly what we did! Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BreadPumpkin Pancakes, you name it(ok well that's actually it, but it was still a LOT of pumpkin!).  I'm totally pumpkined out, but I can probably still find some room for those disgustingly delicious candy corn pumpkins that everyone gives out at halloween!
Pumpkins out the wazoo

Aww...Stumpy Pony!  Actually I guess it's more like a normal sized pony, but I feel strongly that calling him anything other than stumpy pony would make him seem less adorable than he is.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread...mmm

A While Back...

So I'm lazy when it comes to uploading photos to my computer.  Really lazy.  And on top of that, I haven't had a spare minute to get anything posted on here, what with school/homework/work/I don't even know what else. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm sorry for leaving this blog page a desolate wasteland of nothingness for so long.  But I have a ton of stuff I have been meaning to post...and here it all is in one giant clump!
It started feeling like fall recently here in Boulder.  Fall is by far my 
favorite season.  Everything about it is wonderful--the crunch of yellow and orange leaves under your feet, cardigans, rosy cheeks, and that feeling of newness in the air (am I the only one who experiences this?  I don't know if it's the beginning of classes, the change in temperature that allows you to actually venture outside of your air conditioned house, or what, but it seems like there is always this feeling of a fresh start in the air).  The other thing I always get excited about in the fall is drinking tea to warm up, and on the first grayish, coldish day here, I jumped on making a nice pot of tea.  But something was missing--a delicious baked confection to enjoy with my hot tea perhaps?  It had to be scones. Maple-Oatmeal scones! They were the perfect addition to tea on a cold day--I enjoyed them with a big fleece blanket and a few episodes of Arrested Development.  
Later that weekend, I went to the Firefly Handmade craft fair, where I became inspired to quit school immediately, invest in an old airstream trailer, park it at the base of the mountains, and spend my days making large, colorful quilts and soaps.  There were so many creative, talented people there and so much amazing handmade stuff! I bought the cutest pair of earrings and a pennant to hang in my room. There's another one coming up in December--If you live in Boulder, you should definitely take some time to check it out! 

After my boyfriend, Ben, and I got back from the craft fair(he was so nice to let me drag him around from booth to booth for 3 hours even though craft fairs are so not his thing), we were starving, but after gorging ourselves on scones the whole weekend, something light and possibly even healthy was in order. Using whatever we could find around the house, we made a super simple but super delicious pear-walnut salad(pictured above) and relaxed in front of a movie before another hectic week began.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spare Change

Up until recently, I had never been much of a blog enthusiast, but this summer I sort of developed an addiction to some blogs that I stumbled onto when I was looking for recipes and craft ideas.  I feel like I'm entering the game a little late, but because there aren't enough craft/recipe/general observations about day-to-day life blogs out there, I thought I would throw in one of my own! Lately, I've been spending the great majority of my free time baking and attempting various crafting projects, and this seemed like the perfect way to keep a record for myself of what I have done, and maybe even provide some inspiration to anyone who happens to find their way to this page! So, here goes!