Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What It Means To Be An Adult- Part 1: Laundry

When you're an adult, you have to do your own laundry.


(Okay, of course there are exceptions, like if you're super rich or if you've conned your significant other into doing it...)


I think one of the weirdest things about moving out of my parents' house, was realizing that I am now responsible for buying things like laundry detergent, dish soap, and toilet paper. These are all things that were just there before. I never had to think about them, let alone BUY them. In fact, I probably didn't even realize that they existed before I moved out. No one told me I would need to buy laundry detergent.


First of all, how do you even know what kind of detergent to buy? I had no idea. The laundry aisle became this daunting challenge that ended up looking like the hallway from The Shining.


I mean, seriously...wtf is this!?




I'll tell you what it is. It's the laundry detergent rainbow row of hell, that's what.

A little trial an error taught me a few things:

  1. The color of the bottle does not matter.
  2. Detergent is NOT equal to fabric softener. These are different products. Do not be fooled by the similarity of the bottles.
  3. I am, in fact, quite allergic to fabric softener.
  4. If your detergent is "Mountain Spring" scented, it probably smells like a car air freshener.

Detergen aside, the fact that I have to do laundry is an issue in itself.

I like clean clothes. I really do. However, I have a serious problem with laundry. Here's another list (With pictures!) to sum up my (somewhat disorganized) laundry routine:


Step 1: Decide on an outfit for the day. 




Step 2: Realize that there are many more options and start trying on EVERYTHING.




Step 3: In an attempt to save time, skip rehanging and add all tried on clothes to the dirty laundry pile at the bottom of the closet.




Step 4: Finally decide that the first outfit is the best, and plan to rehang the clean items later.




Step 5: Never rehang anything. Instead, spend all week picking from the closet laundry pile and using smell as a way to determine the cleanliness of each item. 






Step 6: Run out of clean underwear (Except for one pair of granny panties, reserved for "that time of the month.")




Step 7: Wear granny panties for a day. (Throw out all hope of getting laid.)




Step 8: Go commando for a day. (Be prepared to get laid twice.)



Step 9: Finally become bored enough to do laundry. Although there still may be clean clothes in the closet laundry pile, throw everything in the washing machine without sorting.




Step 10: When clothes are clean and dry, bring them upstairs and put them on the bed. Begin to hang things like a real adult. (While wearing "Laundry Day" bright red hoodie and purple polar bear boxers...)




Step 11: Become distracted by an article of clothing you thought was lost. Try it on with other clothes and jewelry to see what outfit possibilities there are. 







Step 12: Realize that it is a good idea to repurpose your wardrobe and try on everything to find all new outfit combinations.



Step 13: Decide to play dress up. Be a zombie. (Find Roommate and scream, "LOOK, I"M A ZOMBIE!")






Step 14: Take a nap.




Step 15: Become distracted by roommate.




Step 16: Put away underwear and hang a few things.




Step 17: Reward yourself with a beer.




Step 18: Create a new closet laundry pile with the remaining clothes and decide to hang them tomorrow.




Step 19: Put the clean clothes on your bed the next morning to force yourself to hang them when you get home later.




Step 20: Go about your day. Come home at night, get ready for bed, decide you're too tired to put away laundry, and throw all the laundry back into closet pile (Which may now have dirty clothes in it.)




Step 21: Repeat steps 1 through 20 FOREVERRRRRR.


Hey. At least my clothes still get clean, right?









Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pumpkin PUPcakes



Let me first start by saying that these are for dogs. I mean, of course they're edible to humans, but they won't taste too great. In fact, I have tasted them, and they're pretty dense and bland, even though they smell amazing. Remember, dogs have a sense of smell and taste almost 1000 times better than ours, so to them, these Pupcakes are delicious.

There are a lot of dogs in our house. Seven, to be exact. Roommate has four pugs, a beagle, and a collie. I have a rescued pit bull/greyhound mix (We think...). Although most of the pups aren't mine, I still consider them my weird little furry family, and I love spoiling them (Especially my Toby!).

I actually first heard of Pupcakes from the Sprinkles Cupcakes website, while I was getting ideas for unique cupcake recipes. I did a little research on Pupcake recipes, and on what was and wasn't safe for puppies to eat, and I found that the top three treats for Pupcakes are meat, peanut butter, and pumpkin.

Now, I definitely didn't want to make a meat flavored Pupcake, because that's weird...and gross...and with my luck, Boyfriend would end up loving them, devour a bunch, and then smell like Beggin' Strips for a week and a half. Not attractive.

I also vetoed peanut butter-- actually, my pup, Toby, vetoed peanut butter. I happen to own the single dog in the world that hates peanut butter. This is inconvenient, not only because a lot of dog treats are peanut butter flavored, but because I will never, ever experience the joy and entertainment of seeing my dog try to eat a spoonful of peanut butter. This is a sad and depressing fact that I have yet to come to terms with.

Anyway, I decided on pumpkin, even though I wasn't sure if Toby or the rest of the dogs even liked it.

When my first batch was finished, I gave some to the pups, and they were promptly devoured.

This was when I realized that I may have done a terrible, terrible thing.

The dogs may not ever want to eat their normal dog food again...

Ingredients

Pupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (Make sure it's whole wheat and NOT unbleached. They are not the same!)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 (16) oz can of pumpkin
  • 2 (5 oz.) cups of plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line cupcake pans with 24 lightly greased cupcake liners
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl
  4. In a separate, medium bowl, combine pumpkin, yogurt, honey, vegetable oil, and vanilla.
  5. Fold wet ingredient mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredient mixture. (Final mixture will be very thick and sticky)
  6. Spoon mixture into liners, about 3/4 full. (Pupcakes will rise a little, but not too much.)
  7. Bake for 18 minutes
  8. While Pupcakes are baking, mix cream cheese and honey until smooth 
  9. Cool cupcakes completely.
  10. You can put the frosting into a piping bag and pipe it on, or you can just frost by hand with a butter knife!
  11. Watch your furry friend(s) devour (or inhale!) their delicious treat!!





Quick Shrimp and Basil Pasta



I'm not even going to pretend that I'm not a lazy asshole sometimes. Yes, I love food, and yes, I love to cook, but a lot of the time, I don't really feel like cooking, or even waiting for food to cook. A lot of the time, the urge to be lazy and sit in front of the tv watching Grey's Anatomy and eating a protein bar wins over cooking a nice dinner when I've worked all day and I'm exhausted and starving.

I got the idea for this pasta at a dinner party I went to years ago, and I tweaked it a bit, created my own version, and it's been my lazy-night "fancy" dinner go-to ever since. Oh, and did I mention it's totally healthy? Every time I make this, I feel like a fancy, wealthy, food-saavy, hipster, health nut. I should just buy a pair of Tom's and some thick-rimmed glasses already to really fit the part.


Shrimp and Basil Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1/2 package whole wheat thick spaghetti
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. fresh uncooked (cleaned) shrimp (frozen works, too!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2-4 ounces goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • balsamic vinegar to taste
Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions
  2. Saute shrimp in a pan over medium heat in olive oil until shrimp is fully cooked and pink in color
  3. Add the pasta to the pan with the shrimp.
  4. Fold in basil, and stir until it is slightly wilted
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar
Note: Make sure that you crumble the goat cheese on the pasta after you've plated it, or the cheese will melt and disappear into the pasta mixture (And it is a serious bummer haha)

Lemon Ricotta Cookies



I will usually take any excuse to use cheese in a recipe. Seriously. It's a problem. (Or is it...?)

When I stumbled upon this recipe from Giada De Laurentis, I knew I had found my new favorite cookie.

I'm not usually a big cookie person. I prefer more hearty desserts-- warm desserts of frozen desserts. Cookies just seem like a snack, rather than a dessert, and it's really hard to find a cookie with the perfect texture. These lemon glazed lemon ricotta cookies are more cake-like, similar to Madelines, and they are packed with flavor. Giada really hit the nail on the head with these. I didn't change a thing, and everyone loved them. (In fact, I left some in a tupperware in my car for over a week, and Boyfriend loved them so much that he insisted on eating them. Ick.)




Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cookies:
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container.

*This recipe makes about 40 cookies, so I usually cut it in half. The measurements for this one are actually really easy to divide.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The "Dont Look At The Clock" Game

     I have found that the last hour of any work shift is the hardest part of my entire day.

     Yes, sometimes I have to get up for work at 3AM. And sometimes we get a line of customers that stretches out the door and around our building, and I have to make drinks for three consecutive hours, while still pretending I'm enjoying myself and I'm happy to see everyone. All of this is difficult, but at least they make time go by faster.

     That last hour kills me every time, and here's why:

     I end up playing what I like to call the "Don't Look At The Clock" Game. We've all done it. It's miserable, and we know it, but we still do it.

     The DLATC Game is when you actively try not to look at the clock, with the hope that maybe this will make time go by faster. Do not be fooled by this idea. This is a mistake. It will fail. Every time.

     When you think it's been a half hour, it's been three minutes.

     When it feels like you haven't looked at the clock for two hours, only fifteen minutes has really passed when you look again.

     When you start the game, the clock will look like this.







     When it feels like it's been forever, you decide you can't take it anymore and you check the clock, it will more than likely look like this.







     In fact, it may even look like this.


     Yes, time may actually go backwards when you play this game. This is science! (And believe me, I know science. I used to watch Bill Nye The Science Guy alll the time.)



     I've actually taken the game to the next level by trying to get co-workers involved. This is also a mistake. Someone will eventually have to look at the clock, and they will inevitably tell everyone else what time it is, thus ruining the game and making multiple people miserable, resulting in mass misery that only makes time go by even slower.


      And then the only way to end the cycle of mass misery is to stop time completely!!






     ...and then you will need this:



Valentine's Day = LAME



     I absolutely hate Valentine's day. I seriously do. I just don't see the point. It's an entire day devoted to having expectations of your significant other, and spending money on useless gifts that are supposed to be meaningful. Really? Reeeally? Is a teddy bear holding an ugly plush heart meaningful?

     Not to me. Nope. I don't need shit like that. And Boyfriend definitely does not need to shower me with lame gifts and flowers and chocolate to get me into bed. (Okay...maybe chocolate would help a little...)

     And even if I did want lame gifts and flowers and chocolate, why would I want it on the same day that everyone else is getting it? To me, that feels less like a personal, meaningful gift, and more like a generic, last minute, thoughtless token of supposed-affection. I mean, of course flowers and chocolate and dumb trinkets are cool...but why do I only get them one day a year? Ohhhh, because it's the most romantic  day of the year. Of course!

     I'm not bitter, I swear.

     I've celebrated Valentine's Day before, and I guess I used to be into it. Over the years it really started to dawn on me how dumb it was, and since then, every year I have clearly informed my significant others of my detestation for the holiday, and most of the time, my hatred has been respected. I mean, there were a couple times where my boyfriend or girlfriend ignored me and did stuff for me anyway, and I can't say it went over too well. In fact, I acted like a complete asshole in every one of these situations, and I feel pretty awful about it now.

     So when Boyfriend brought Valentine's Day up, I gave him the same speech I'd given everyone else. He was pretty bummed, but he ultimately agreed let it go.

     I think that's what made me feel the worst. I'm Boyfriend's first real girlfriend...and this was his first official Valentine's day with someone to spend it with...and even though it's important to him, he let it go without much of a fight. I've experienced Valentine's Day with a significant other before. What kind of person would I be if I didn't let him experience it, too? Hell, maybe letting him have this holiday now would make him realize how lame it is and I'll never have to deal with it again! Either way, it would definitely get me laid.

     That's when I decided to give him an amazing, epic Valentine's day dinner.

     Oh, and not just ANY dinner.

     I asked him to come over at 8pm, and to stop by the store and pick up a bottle of Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon. (I often make us dinner, and we often have wine, so this didn't ruin the surprise.)

     I started the meal with a fresh spring mix salad, dressed with a white balsamic dressing. I also made him Goat Cheese Stuffed Filet Mignon with Balsamic Reduction Sauce, served over Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes, with Balsamic Roasted Asparagus.



     


     For dessert, I made Basil Balsamic Strawberry Shortcakes with Barefoot Pink Moscato champagne.




     And it was more than just dinner.

     I went all over town, finding the perfect table settings and decor.

     I bought candles and fancy chocolate.

     SHIT....I even had a slideshow with pictures of us set to music playing on the bigscreen. I'll say it. I'm awesome. I win the Best Girlfriend Award.




     AAAAND Voila! Valentine's, Schmalentines. I could do this every night. (Not really...I'm wayyy too lazy for that.)



   

     Needless to say, Boyfriend was very surprised and very happy.



And this bitch got laid.


This Valentine's Day thing could work for me, after all.






Basil Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake




If you like Strawberry Shortcake already, this will blow your mind. I know it sounds totally weird, but it is absolutely amazing and it will change your life. 

Plus, there are strawberries. Strawberries are a fruit. This is totally healthy.

Ingredients


  • 1 pound strawberries, stemmed and sliced (I ended up slicing them in half, and then into slivers.)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced (Thai basil is also a really great twist!)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Whipped Cream or ice cream (If you use ice cream, make sure it's softened. You can do this by letting it sit out of the freezer for 15-20 minutes or so)

Directions



  1. Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar, vinegar, and basil. Refrigerate while juices develop. This will take at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined (I actually ended up using my hands). Place mixture in an ungreased 8-inch square pan. You may have to spread it out a bit, but be careful not to press down too hard. Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the shortcake from the pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces and split each piece in half horizontally. (The picture above shows two full pieces of cake for dramatic effect, but it works muuuuch better if you use one piece split in half.)
  5. Spread whipped cream or ice cream on one half of your cake, and spoon strawberries over it. Top this with the remaining piece of cake and spoon more strawberries over the top.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Filet Mignon with Balsamic Reduction Sauce




Our mom didn't cook very much red meat when we were kids, so there's a very soft spot in my heart for a good steak. I especially love steak when it is stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, and drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction.

Get ready, internet. You may not want to eat steak any other way after this...


Ingredients


  • 1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 (5 to 6-ounce) bacon-wrapped filet mignon steaks (You can buy them already wrapped at many stores, like Winco, or you can wrap them yourself.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

Directions


  1.  Preheat your broiler.
  2. Boil the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until it has reduced to about 1/3 cup, stirring occasionally. This should take about 18 minutes.
  3. While your sauce is reducing, melt the butter in a heavy large non-reactive oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. 
  4.  Before wrapping steaks with bacon, (Or pull the bacon away if your steaks came with bacon!), make a small slit in the side of each steak, and stuff each one with about a tablespoon of cheese. make your you stuff it as far inside as you can, to avoid it melting out. Replace bacon slices.
  5. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. 
  6. Sear steaks in skillet with butter 1-2 minutes per side.
  7. Transfer skillet to oven and cook the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, or when your meat thermometer reads about 130-135 degrees (If you don't have a meat thermometer, get one!! It will seriously become your best friend.).
  8. Crumble a little more cheese over the steaks and broil just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with pepper.
Transfer the steaks to plates. Drizzle the balsamic sauce around the steaks and serve.

(I like to serve them over my Garlic Rosemary mashed potatoes, with Balsamic Roasted Asparagus.)