Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Apple Cake

I tagged this apple cake recipe from Tartelette when it came up in my blog reader and decided to make it this weekend. To be honest, I choose this over others because it required less ingredients and preparation than most of the other recipes I had bookmarked. It was pretty easy to make. I added more apples than I saw in the picture because I couldn't find dainty looking lady apples and I figured it couldn't hurt anything.

The cake was very tasty, however, I would like to propose a crumbly mixture of butter and brown sugar to top this thing off right. Yeah, I said it. I would like to top this mostly guilt-free cake with butter and more sugar. Don't judge me.

P.S. It my birthday eve!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Broccoli, Basil & Squash Pasta

Happy Monday to ya! If you are as unprepared for another week of work as I am, raise your hand. Or better yet, have some pasta. This recipe from Heidi's 101 Cookbooks turned out to be more unusual than I gave it credit for. I just thought, mac and cheese: done. But really, this pasta has very little to do with what most people would consider "mac and cheese." Not just because sophisticated cheeses Gruyere and aged cheddar take the place of a traditionally yellow combination of whatever you prefer, but because it incorporates vegetables in an unusual way. The broccoli, which some people like to add to the sauce to trick their kids into eating vegetables, is incorporated into the breadcrumbs-- with basil. On top of that, you add oven roasted squash. This is does not come in a blue box, people.

I used an acorn squash and the one draw back was that it took to peel and chop that thing. I'm no pro and it usually takes some time to prepare things, but I feel like I was at the cutting board working on the same thing for way too long.

Overall, I did like the recipe. The top was crunchy and the cheese combination was a thumbs up. It was slightly sweet to me for pasta, but the addition of sea salt helped. I'm trying to think of another way to use the chopped oven roasted squash bits, they had a really nice taste and texture.

That's all folks. Hope you had a bearable Monday!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Flying Pumpkin Bars!

If you like all things pumpkin, I'm about to blow your mind. These things are good. I mean real good. I may substitute them for birthday cake next week. My grandma makes them by request-- usually mine (see description line in the picture of my family cookbook below). And speaking of my grandma, it was her birthday yesterday! I wish I had this post up a day earlier, but life happens. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY GMA!!

I decided to share the wealth and make them for a Halloween potluck at work and, luckily, I set a few aside for myself because they were gone.

The frosting is made using what I suspect is my family's favorite ingredient: butter. I made Thanksgiving dinner myself for the first time last year and used almost a box of butter. And it was delicious. As for the frosting, butter + cream cheese + powdered sugar = butter cream frosting. This is why math is so important, people.

I also learned a very valuable lesson in shooting the bars: Do not use a three year old as a hand model because they may accidentally throw your plate of food over their head. They are not terribly coordinated-- true story. See below.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life After School

Hello there! I know I fell off the blog world for a minute again, but instead of dousing you with excuses let me talk about what's been on my mind.

I have been thinking a lot about monotony recently. Driving to the same place, sitting in the same chair and doing virtually the same thing every day before making the same drive home. I have been out of school and working full time for a year now and it feels...well, weird. For as long as I can remember I have said I'm not the kind of person to work a desk job, yet I have been sitting day in and day out and survived the monotony thus far.

One day during my commute, a.k.a. my least favorite part of the day, when I was trying to think of the advantages (besides fiscal reasons) of doing something you feel "meh" about all day five days a week, it occurred to me that some people may enjoy their monotonous jobs because they can be on autopilot while they make money and then do what interests them outside of work. It's not invalid, but I can't help but feel that my time outside of work is very limited and also goes by much, much faster the second I hit the "clock out" button.

Growing up, I remember family, teachers and other optimistic adults would always say "You can be anything you want to be."  I believed them, within reason, as I went through stages of wanting to be a veterinarian, a lawyer, a psychologist and a fashion designer. But coming out of school and into a world where you are lucky to have a job-- period-- and so many qualified people are out of work, it doesn't seem the case. I know "You can be anything you want to be...unless there is a huge economic downturn, in which case you should be anything you can find" is not an idyllic way to raise children, but perhaps it would yield a generation less emotionally attached to their occupation. The downside to "You can be anything" is that if you don't end up doing that thing you told everyone you wanted to do then what are you doing? Settling?

Here's where it gets sticky: I am very attached to the idea of being able to use my creativity in a career. I want to do new things, learn new things and see new things. Ever since my mom died I feel the fragility of life in a much more tangible way. It really, really is too short. For some much shorter than others. I don't want to waste time by not enjoying the present moment and I don't want to regret taking the safe route. I just don't want to be a robot; don't we have robots for that?

Happy Birthday, mom and thank you for everything. Thank you for always encouraging me to express myself from letting me dress myself for school when Punky Brewest was my style icon to always having paint and canvas in the house. Thank you for telling me I can be whatever I want to be.