Merry (Day After) Christmas

Merry, merry day after Christmas dear readers.

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Need a quick, 10 minute escape from your family, ahem, whatever you have going on today?  Here’s some internet I found.

Any fellow white T-shirt lovers out there? We have to stick together. Here are what 11 T-Shirt bras look like under actual T-shirts.  Spoiler alert.  Of course you can see a whole bunch of them.

Hoping to make these cookies today.

Made this last night.  It’s a show stopper.  Something about a bundt cake.  It’s nostalgic, and looks ten times fancier than it is because of the shape.

It took years, but I think I’ve finally settled on ESTJ as my Myers Briggs type.  According to 16 Personalities I have this in common with Dwight Schrute and Claire Dunphy.  Sounds about right.  Anyway, according to the internet, which is always to be believed, there are 4 kinds of introversion, and 2 kinds of extroversion.  Fascinating to someone who has always thought there’s more I in her than people realize.

Staying home this year has given me all the thoughts about productivity, anxiety, and why everyone in 2016 (and probably 2017, too) is so dang stressed all the time.  This sheds a little insight.  I’m looking to simpler times for some answers.  (Also, this line is everything: The allure of the doctrine of time management is that, one day, everything might finally be under control.)

I suck at small talk.  If you are my best friend I will talk till 3 am with you and never want it to end.  If I’ve never met you and we are seated at a random wedding table together, I’ll excuse myself to go dance so that I don’t have to think of things to say to you.  (ps, my aunt read a book by Barbara Walters along these lines, and I have always wanted to track it down and read it.) (pps, I’ve never forgotten this article – just tell someone their job sounds really hard.  Everyone thinks their job is really hard.)

And if you have a little bit longer, I cannot recommend this Emma Watson and Lin Manuel Miranda He for She video highly enough.  A little Hogwarts, a little Hamilton, a little deep thinking.

Also, OMG, Beauty and the Beast.  I love that I’m now old enough that pop culture wants to bring back my childhood.  And I LOVE that it looks like they pretty much brought the animated movie to life, and made 0 changes.  Do you think the script is the same?  Because maybe after Grandma Glass of Milk gave me the VHS, I watched it so many times I had every line memorized.  Maybe.

 

Wins of the Month – November, 2016

Why yes, we are almost finished with December, but there is absolutely no way I am skipping celebrating November’s wins.

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November wins:

  • Hosting a soiree at Casa Glass of Milk in honor of AGOMYR.  Love her.
  • Organizing a group effort for a homeless dinner, and celebrating said dinner with a pizza party of our own.
  • Giving a new family a couple of freezer meals.
  • Remembering to drink water before coffee.
  • Making it to a cocktail party!
  • Bringing Gooplet to his first basketball game.
  • Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with a baby underfoot.

October Wins//September Wins

The Wisdom of AGOMYR [pioneer woman’s twice baked potatoes]

After Thanksgiving, AGOMYR was kind enough to inquire as to the results of a little experiment I conducted in my kitchen.

“How were The Pioneer Woman’s mashed potatoes?”

“Oh, AGOMYR, they were good.  They have almost everything Grandma Glass of Milk’s recipe has.  But they just weren’t the same.”

“Um, of course they weren’t.”

Because nothing is ever the same as your grandma’s mashed potatoes.  Especially when you and your grandma have gone so far as to exchange Hallmark cards specifically about mashed potatoes.

So noted.

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I can tell you, however, that The Pioneer Woman’s twice baked potatoes are absolutely and completely too good to be true.  There is not a shred of nutrition in them.  But now and again, I’m okay with that.

These would be a delightfully decadent addition to your Christmas table, and you could make them ahead of time, and reheat them in the oven right before serving.

To make potatoes for 12, you will need:

8 baking potatoes, washed
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 sticks salted butter
1 cup bacon bits (fry your own!)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Cheddar or Jack cheese (or a mix of both), plus more for topping
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3 green onions, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Rub them with the canola oil and bake for 1 hour, making sure they’re sufficiently cooked through.

Slice the butter into pats. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the bacon bits and sour cream. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F.

With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scrape out the insides into the mixing bowl, being careful not to tear the shell. Leave a small rim of potato intact for support. Lay the hollowed out potato shells on a baking sheet.

Smash the potatoes into the butter, bacon and sour cream. Add the cheese, milk, seasoned salt, green onions and black pepper to taste and mix together well. (IMPORTANT: If you plan to freeze the twice-baked potatoes, do NOT add the green onions.)

Fill the potato shells with the filling. I like to fill the shells so they look abundant and heaping. Top each potato with a little more grated cheese and pop ’em in the oven until the potato is warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.

The Story Behind the Menu – A First Birthday Bash [honey ham and swiss sliders]

Don’t fret, dear readers, Gooplet still has a couple of months to go before he gets his first taste of cake.  This first birthday bash was for CV(D)’s son.  In fact, she not only had time to pull of this party, but she even wrote her next guest post about it. And the sliders in question were gobbled up faster than anyone could snap a picture.  Please enjoy her adorable cake, instead.

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Who: family and some of the best friends a family could ask for
What: a first birthday party
When: 2-5 on a Sunday afternoon
Why: because one always hosts a first birthday – OMG my baby is one!
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The thought process: Pick a time between naps that also doesn’t require feeding people a real meal. Pick a theme because that’s what people do for first birthdays nowadays, and it makes it more fun for mom. Pick a theme based on a book because mom is a teacher and baby boy loves things that go. Enter The Little Blue Truck. Ask grandmas to bring things that require actual cooking because babies be babies.
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The Menu:
Farm fresh veggies (veggie platter with ranch dip)
Chicken feed (white cheddar popcorn)
Honey Ham and Swiss Sliders (no cute name, but yummier than pigs in blankets)
Hay bales (rice crispy treats)
Spare tires (Oreos)
Birthday cake and smash cake!
What worked: Pinterest! Thanks for all the great ideas, people who take the time to post those sorts of things. Also, having my mom and mother in law make things that required time and attention. It took enough to get our house clean(ish) and our kid napping at the right time; not having the stress of putting anything “real” together the day-of was amazing.
What didn’t: not enough beer and not enough sliders. (oh hey, last minute guests! We love hosting parties and we love our friends; just because we didn’t think you’d be into a one year old’s first birthday, doesn’t mean you don’t love us enough to come!)
My mom made the sliders for the party using a recipe from her sweet neighbor, Kelsey. They were a hit to say the least!
To make Honey Ham and Swiss Cheese sliders for a small crowd, you will need:
24 Slices of deli honey ham
6 Slices of swiss cheese, cut into fourths
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Butter melted
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 packages (12 count) KING’S HAWAIIAN Original Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls

 
Kelsey’s Note: I always add a little extra cheese and ham on mine to make them more hearty. This recipe calls for more than I think you need, but I tend to use almost all of the ham & cheese when I make them! Also, sometimes they sell the rolls in a 24 pack, and they are easier to prepare/cut that way because you’re cutting one full package of rolls instead of 2-12 packs. I’ve found that this recipe takes close to 45 minutes for prep, wait time & cook time!
 
Instructions: 
1) Cut rolls in half and spread mayo onto 1 side of the rolls. Place a slice or two of ham and slice of swiss cheese in roll. Replace the top of the rolls and bunch them closely together into a baking dish.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together poppy seeds, dijon mustard, melted butter, onion powder and worcestershire sauce.
(Note: if you’re prepping in advance and assembling at the party your daughter is throwing (or whoever), pause here. Cover the baking dish(es) and put a lid on the sauce. Carry the whole deal over to the party, then pick up again at step 3)
3) Pour sauce over the rolls, just covering the tops. Cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes.
4) Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for additional 2 minutes until tops are slightly browned and crisp. Serve warm.
We doubled it, but if you have a few single guys who aren’t that into cooking on your guest list, you might consider tripling that 😉

 

A Dose of Nostalgia [adult spaghetti-o’s]

It’s terrifying to think that it’s people my age who are the targeted market for nostalgia these days.  The first time I heard a Red Hot Chili Peppers song on the classic rock station I flipped out.  Classic rock?  A song that I remember vividly from my childhood? Not possible.

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Need something to eat while you’re finishing up season two of Fuller House?  (Surely you’ve finished Gilmore, even though I haven’t started.)  May I suggest Bon Appetit’s adult SpaghettiOs?

To make enough for 6 people, you will need:

  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • ¼ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck (20% fat)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 large sprigs basil
  • 12 ounces anelletti, ditalini, or other short tubular pasta

Purée tomatoes in a food processor until mostly smooth; there should still be some dime-sized pieces remaining. Set aside.

Whisk panko, cheese, oregano, garlic powder, ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, and 1½ tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in egg and cream. Add beef and mix with your hands until just combined, being careful not to overwork (if packed too firmly, meatballs will be dense). Form into 1″-diameter balls (you should have about 24); transfer to a plate.

Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until lightly browned on all sides but not fully cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to another plate.

Cook onion and garlic in same skillet, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and begins to soften, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and cook until brick red, about 1 minute. Add paprika and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sugar, basil, and reserved tomato purée. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced and flavors have melded, about 20 minutes. Add meatballs and any accumulated juices; continue to cook until meatballs are cooked through, 5–10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain and return to pasta pot. Pour sauce and meatballs over pasta and stir to combine. Transfer to a platter and top with cheese.

It’s (Almost) Girl Scout Cookie Time [thin mint brownies]

I posted an Instagram the other day, in which it was revealed, that yes, I still have two boxes of Thin Mints in my pantry.  Two boxes!  People were shocked.  The truth is, Tagalongs are my great weakness in life, but I can take or leave a Thin Mint.

Until you tell me they can be crushed up and made into icing for brownies.  Brownies!  I just got that.

img_6730To make a batch, you will need:

  • 1 (16.5 oz) box Devil’s Food Cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (9 oz) bag mint chocolate chips
  • 1 (9 oz) box Thin Mints (about 30 cookies)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (12 oz) bag mini chocolate chips*
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 baking dish with aluminum foil and coat generously with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. With a mixer, beat cake mix, eggs, and melted butter until well combined. Then stir in mint chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Press into the bottom of prepared pan, and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes until the edges have just set. Allow to cool completely.
  3. For the frosting, crush the cookies in a Ziploc bag into fine crumbs. With the mixer again, beat the cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, and softened butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Spread over cooled brownies and top with mini chocolate chips. Cut into squares and serve.

*By the time all was said and done and I got these made, I didn’t think the extra chips on top were necessary.  I love these with just the brownies and icing.

This New Thing We’re Doing [cranberry apple cake]

Dear readers, I didn’t mean to abandon you, especially not during this, my most epic food week ever.
Except it seems that’s exactly what I’ve gone and done.
I have done 0 work to prepare for Thanksgiving.  And it’s Wednesday!  Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  I need to go grocery shopping. I’m on dessert duty at my in-laws on Thursday, and then I’ll make our little family a mini Thanksgiving on Friday (turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and whatever leftover dessert we walk away with from the afternoon prior).
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If you need a little something different on your Thanksgiving dessert table, may I suggest Ina’s easy cranberry and apple cake?
My husband has taken to making a little something each weekend, and this was on the agenda the other day.  We devoured it.  It’s like pie filling with a simple cake on top.
Hope your Thanksgivings are filled with whomever it is you’re most thankful for.
To make cranberry apple cake, you will need:
12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

All of Our Dinners [tomato and orzo soup with grilled cheese croutons]

Over the past couple of weekends, my husband and I have been poring over Ina’s cookbooks (more on this later).  This is a first for him, but not so much for me.  At one point in his perusal, he remarked, “These are all of our dinners!”

Astute observation, honey.

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Our most recent Barefoot Contessa dinner was her tomato and orzo soup with grilled cheese croutons.  I first enjoyed it on a lunch date with my longtime friend Sarah, and was so pumped to find I had all the ingredients I needed (save for saffron) to make it at home.  It was on the table only two evenings later.

To make soup for 4, you will need:

3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped fine (2 onions)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Large pinch of saffron threads
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup heavy cream
Grilled Cheese Croutons (see below)

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.  This is a simple as making your favorite grilled cheese, and cutting it into bite-sized pieces.

Currently

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Making: lists, so things get dumped out of my brain (and remembered).
Cooking: lots of meals, but never quite on the day I think I’m going to.
Drinking: OJ to combat the sniffles.
Reading: You’ll Grow out of It, by Jessi Klein.
Wanting: what else? To spruce up the house in a couple of places
Looking: at floating shelves (see above)
Playing: the Hamilton mixtape songs
Deciding: whether or not the flowers on the counter will last a couple more days
Wishing: my Facebook feed would settle down already. 
Enjoying: Sugarfina treats from AGOMYR.  She’s too good to me.
Waiting: for a chance to catch up on Jane the Virgin and Barefoot Contessa
Liking: that I’ve still got the windows open in mid-November!
Wondering: the best way to start organizing the pantry.
Loving: getting dressed in the morning. I can’t even believe I said that. 
Pondering: what Christmas will look like. 
Considering: a party where I invite people to come over to use up all my leftover disposable paper plates, cups, and napkins from other parties.  Does this happen to anyone else?
Watching: Jane the Virgin. I’m behind a couple of episodes. 
Hoping: I can pull off all the new dishes I want to try this Thanksgiving. 
Marveling: at the way all my holds come in at the library at the exact same time and then I have three weeks to get through 47 books.
Needing: deep breaths.
Smelling: nothing, because of those aforementioned sniffles.
Wearing: sneakers, always.
Following: the flow, a la Jess Lively
Noticing: that food brings people together. 
Knowing: this year the Christmas sheets will go on the bed early.
Thinking: of gift ideas already. 
Feeling: content. 
Admiring: patience in others.
Sorting: baby clothes.
Buying: baby clothes.
Getting: posts together for a meal planning series – 2017, dear readers!
Bookmarking: recipes, always. 
Disliking: how when I read multiple books at once, I rarely finish any. 
Praying: for families who aren’t looking forward to the holidays. 
Opening: too many tabs online. 
Giggling: over every last Joe Boden meme out there. 
Snacking: on sour cream and onion chips, my true weakness. 
Coveting: M.Gemi shoes. 
Wishing: for a couple new kitchen tools. 
Helping: organize a couple of events. 
Hearing: 

Adding Sweetness to your Day [donut bread pudding]

If you’re ready for something to completely coat your teeth in sugar, then dear readers, a glass of milk is your happy home today.

I hosted a baby shower for AGOMYR this weekend, and as a result, ended up with a half dozen leftover Krispy Kreme donuts.  Donuts are a rare fried food that I can (usually) walk right by and pass up, so they just sat in a container on my counter for a couple days.  Until I remembered Pinterest had recipes for donut bread pudding.

Bingo!

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This was breakfast this morning.  It’s probably the most indulgent thing I’ve ever eaten.  You know that fuzzy feeling on your teeth when you’ve consumed more sugar than should ever be allowed?

You don’t?  Nah, me neither.

To make a small casserole, you will need:

  • butter for greasing the pan
  • a half dozen donuts, chopped into sixths
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk

Butter an 8 x 8 casserole dish.  Add donuts.  In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and condensed milk till combined.  Pour over donuts and let that goodness get soaked up a bit (I left mine covered in the fridge overnight).  Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.