Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scrumptious Happenings, Chapter 2

I've been wanting to post for a while, and have had several posts mentally prepared for a few weeks, but I lost my camera cord! Josh came to the rescue tonight with a memory card reader, so I was able to retrieve my photos. Yay!

So I had a lot of fun crafting yesterday's supper, and it was pretty tasty too. The main dish was just chicken legs covered in a (store-bought) mango chutney mixed with mustard, and I served green beans on the side for veg. They were okay (not really photo worthy), but the samosas and galettes were the fun part.

For the samosas, I adapted this recipe from RealSimple (is it possible to be in love with a magazine?). I substituted butter for the olive oil, and I made the mashed potatoes myself using golden potatoes and adding plenty of garlic, butter, and salt, and then I grated some Gruyere and added that to the potatoes. After sealing the pastries, I brushed them with butter and grated more Gruyere on top. I also may have used more curry than called for, but I really don't know--I just added until I thought it tasted good. But oh, were they yummy.

Next, for dessert (I love dessert, but don't make it often) I made delicious sweet galettes inspired by this recipe from Homegrown Happy.

Since I'd used only one of the refrigerated pie crusts for the samosas, I used the other one for the galettes. I cut it into quarters and didn't bother to make each into a round--I just used the triangular shape and it seemed to work fine. For the filling, I added powdered sugar to some cream cheese to sweeten it a bit, spread about a tablespoon onto the center of the dough, and then topped it with a mound of frozen berries (two were blueberries, and two were raspberries and blackberries). Fold up the edges in pleats, leaving the center open and pretty. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar, then pop them in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes. Delicious! I plan on experimenting some more with this recipe using different sweet and savory fillings. I think my next attempt might be a Brie and mushroom concoction. Mmmm...

Till then!


Saturday, October 24, 2009


Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love pretty much everything about it--leaves changing and crunching underfoot, pumpkins EVERYWHERE, cool[er] air, acorns, pinecones, cinnamon, apples, cider, boots, cardigans, scarves...and of course, it all ends in Christmas, so what's not to like?

Fall also gets me cooking and baking more. (I think it probably has something to do with the temperature dropping enough so that I don't feel like I'm in a sauna every time I use the oven or stove.) As a result, I thought I'd share one of my favorite fall recipes.

Background story: I have these fond childhood memories of going to Oma and Opa's house around Christmas time and sitting up on a stool by the counter and eating the special-Christmastime-only-cookies--the ones that they always bought from the German store when they imported them during the Christmas season. These ones:

I almost gave up trying to find a picture, which should tell you how obscure they are. Thank you random Polish imports site. Behold! Heaven itself. Soft gingerbread cookies with plum filling covered in dark chocolate. Yes, I was a very. spoiled. child. With a well-developed palate, apparently. These delectable treats have since become a bit more readily available, being no longer confined to the Christmas season, but the combination of ginger spice and dark chocolate will always be fondly associated with fall and winter in my mind and mouth. The recipe below is happily reminiscent of all the best tastes of fall.

Gone-So-Fast-I-Couldn't-Get-A-Picture Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

1. Preheat oven to 4oo degrees.

2. Grease muffin tin. I recommend that you not use paper liners, unless you like donating half your muffin to them.

3. In a large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup white sugar (you can substitute some brown sugar if you like a deeper flavor), 1/4 cup vegetable oil or applesauce, and two eggs. Add 1 cup canned pumpkin and 1/4 cup water and mix.

4. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt. Add lots of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and also some ground cloves (but don't overdo it with the cloves). I like lots of spice in mine, and I never measure it--I just keep adding until it looks and smells about right.

5. Make a well in the center of the pumpkin mixture and gradually combine wet and dry ingredients.

6. Add in semi-sweet chocolate chips. I always eyeball how much. I guess it's probably around half a bag, or maybe a little under.

7. Pour into muffin tin. Distribute equally between all 12 cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Breath in the irresistible fragrance of fall.

8. Take pictures as soon as you remove them from the tin because they will disappear before you get another chance! (I always manage to forget this step).

Enjoy! And step on a crunchy leaf!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ivan the Terrible

No more great home updates that I can post yet (although several have been completed, or nearly completed--bedroom updates, living room rearrangement, new furniture assembled, and that lantern from Anthropologie FINALLY came after being lost in the mail for 3 weeks...thanks UPS...) so I figure I will update about Ivan.


I took Ivan to the vet two weeks ago for a deworming treatment, and found out that he is (according to their best educated guesses--mainly the fact that his molars are coming in) now actually nearing four months old. We had our suspicions, especially since he pretty much doubled in size in only two weeks. We assume that proper nutrition has had something to do with that. His eyesight also improved dramatically in that first week, and he gained a lot of energy.

A LOT of energy.

He will typically spend two-thirds of the day racing around, pouncing on things, and generally tiring himself out so that he can then sleep for the remaining third of the day. I know that this is typical kitten behavior. I understand and appreciate this. However, it becomes far less easy to appreciate at 11:30 pm when I am grading papers and trying to finish reading Beowulf before I go to bed so that I can get up at 6:30 am and teach classes in the morning. Here's how last night went:

Me: [grading papers and recording scores in the living room.]

[Josh: in bed. zzzzzzzzzz...]

Ivan: [running across the backs of the couches at full speed. falls off the back of the couch and lands on top of my stack of papers. scrambles around with a crazed look in his eyes and bites the papers. (forgot to mention that he is currently teething--molars, you know...)]

Me: Ivan, no! [remove Ivan to the floor and bop his nose.]

Ivan: [crazed look. leaps back up onto the couch and lays across my score sheets belly up, claws out.]

Me: Ivan, not a good time. [remove Ivan to the floor again, but not before he gnaws on my hand.] Ivan, no. [bop nose.]

Ivan: [crazed look. takes three laps around the apartment. pounces on yarn ball.]

Me: [resume grading.]

[5 minutes later. noise coming from the blinds by the front window. Ivan has rapidly leapt on top of the computer tower that sits on the floor up to the windowsill, and then up on top of the air conditioning unit which houses three potted plants. he has never been up there before.]

Me: [get up. walk to desk to retrieve cat.] Ivan, no! [retrieve cat. bop nose. set cat on floor. sit back down to grade.]

[immediate repetition of noise by the blinds. Ivan is already back up on the air conditioner.]

Me: Ivan, NO! [attempt to retrieve cat from air conditioner.]

Ivan: [reaches out both front paws to resist. hooks on to "Water Magic" fern plant.]

Plant: Alas! Alack! [falls over onto desk, spilling water all over my school papers.]

Handouts/grading rubrics/folders/resource binders/electronics in the crate on the floor: Sog. [drip.]

Me: [angry silence and disbelief. locate spray bottle. squirt cat in face.] No. [lock cat in bathroom/hallway. begin cleaning up mess.]

Air Conditioner: [turns on.]

Me: You know, you really are not helping right now. [realize I am talking to an inanimate object. turn off air conditioner. clean off desk. scatter papers throughout the room to dry. attempt to dry off wet electronics. finish grading papers. decide it is time to go to bed.]

[end scene.]

Don't get me wrong, he can be extremely cuddly and loveable, especially when he does that face-nuzzle head-butt thing while he's purring... The problem right now seems to be that he's 1) a kitten, and 2) one of the more social cats I've encountered. When I'm done teaching and am home during the day, or even when I'm getting ready to leave in the morning, he follows me around like a shadow. He hates being locked out of any room where people are. He usually cries outside our bedroom door for a few minutes each night (one night, we tried letting him in to sleep with us--EPIC FAIL. Little sleep was had by all.). All of this is very sweet and endearing, but his level of sociality combined with the fact that he is a kitten means that he seems to view most everything that Josh and I do as a game. Cleaning up stuff around the apartment? Game. Walking to his food dish to feed him? Totally a game. Feet were made for pouncing on. Folding laundry? BEST GAME EVER. We are trying to correct his understanding of this (he has learned for the most part that it is not okay to attack our laptops, especially while we are using them) via nose bops and a spray bottle. But it is a long and tiring process.

I really am looking forward to when he is older and a bit less active. And no, he's not really terrible, he's just a kitten. He can't help it much.

In other news, the laundry ghosts have redoubled their efforts. Thus, you will have to wait until we can make some serious headway on that front to see pictures of how awesome our bedroom is now.



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Newest Addition

Meet Ivan:

He's five weeks old. He was found on campus in one of the dorms, and campus safety was going to call animal control, but a friend of ours offered to take him. She ended up not being able to keep him because of limits in her apartment, so we offered to take him instead. He's super playful and loves people, string, and people food (he desperately wanted to try our waffles, but we didn't let him). When we got him, he had just been litter trained, and he's been amazingly meticulous about it--no accidents so far. He's also eating regular kitten food now and using formula only as a supplement.

(Christina and her roommate Sarah came to visit yesterday, and I promised to post some of the pictures. Hi Steeny and Sarah!)

We think he's pretty much the cutest ever.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday's Steal

Josh and I just scored a $40 apothecary chest from someone who posted in the University classifieds. Why is this particularly awesome? I don't think I've mentioned our bed on this blog before. Josh built our bed. It is amazingly awesome. It is also very tall. As in, I use a stepping stool to climb into bed. No, I am not kidding.

The added height makes for all kinds of wonderful storage underneath the bed (currently housing boxes that still haven't been unpacked--not very attractive), but as a result, we didn't have a very convenient place to sit down and put our shoes on--until now:

We love the apothecary drawers in the front and the chest in the back--even MORE storage space! Yay! I threw my down comforter on top of it for now as a makeshift cushion since it's way too hot to use it currently:

Yay for hiding ugly storage with MORE storage, and creating a nice space to tie your shoes!


(As a point of reference, when I sit on the chest, my feet comfortably touch the ground. I just measured, and the height of the chest is an inch greater than the seat height of the dining room chairs. The bed is so tall that we use bookcases for nightstands.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scrumptious Happenings in the Barber Kitchen

I view last night's dinner as a success. My proof? Josh took one bite and melted in his seat. The best thing about it was that it was completely thrown together from leftovers and only took about half an hour. Here's the meal:

Stuffed Tomatoes (the real star)
We had a bunch of leftover tomatoes that Josh's sister had grown and given to us, and we needed to use them up. I cut the tops off (though I suppose they might be more stable if you turn them upside-down and cut the bottoms off instead) and scooped out the core and seeds. Then I tossed a piece of bread into the mini food processor, and put the crumbs in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil to brown them. I took leftover Parmesan (in an amount equal to the crumbs) and threw that in the food processor, and then mixed it in with the breadcrumbs in a bowl. I added about 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, some salt and pepper, and enough olive oil so that the mixture would hold together a bit. I spooned the crumb mixture into the tomatoes, put the tops back on, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. Then I lined a baking sheet with foil, and poured a thin layer of olive oil into the bottom. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes (maybe more if you are using really large tomatoes) at 450 degrees, and then remove and let cool a bit. Consume, and then melt in complete satisfaction.

Super Easy Honey Mustard Chicken
We had leftover grocery-store-roasted-chicken, the kind with some sort of seasoning already on it, so I just carved off pieces of white meat and coated them with a mustard and honey mixture, put them on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprinkled them with brown sugar, and popped them into the oven at 450 for a few minutes until they were warm and the sauce had started to bubble and brown. Tangy, sweet, and delicious.

Add to this some microwave-steamed sugar snap peas (and maybe a little Chardonnay), and you've got yourself a truly scrumptious, truly easy meal.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Home improvements have mostly been put on hold for the time being for various reasons (lack of available funds, my new job starting up, laundry ghosts, exhaustion, etc.). This leaves me frustrated and feeling stagnant. Everything works fine right now in our apartment just the way it is, but I wish it were prettier. There are few places in the apt. right now that I really love being in. I do love the kitchen table when we open the blinds, because the trees in the courtyard below make me feel like we live in a tree house. However, the chairs aren't terribly comfortable and thus are not conducive to long daydreaming sessions over a cup of tea. I really dislike the way our living room is arranged right now, but have to wait to rearrange it when hubby is agreeable to such an endeavor since I (being tiny and weak) can't move it on my own. The bedroom is a mess due to the abovementioned laundry ghosts (We can't get rid of them, no matter how hard we try! They multiply like bunnies!), so it's not a particularly pleasant place to spend time. I do like the bathroom, but it would be odd spending lots of time in there...

Anyway, long story short(er), I am reduced to interwebernets searches and salivation over all the lovely things I hope we can someday own. Like the duvet cover from our registry (Lantana from Bed, Bath, and Beyond):

Which looks strangely more white and gold in the photo, but is actually white and green. And curtains. I would love some curtains.

I did, however, just buy one little thing for the bathroom. They just sent me my Anthro Card number from Anthropologie, so I just snagged this little beauty for $8.53 (including tax--yay free shipping!):

I plan on hanging it in the window. I think it will make our already lovely bathroom even lovelier. I'll update when things start progressing again!


Friday, August 7, 2009

DIY Coasters!

Hooray! It is the time for the first ever post of the DIY!

Being not very impressed with the available selection of beverage coasters at Target and BB&B, hubs and I decided we could probably do better. I researched a tiny bit online to see what other folks were doing, and found this awesome tutorial, which I adapted a tiny bit. The end product?

Awesomely customized, super easy, and inexpensive coasters that protect our coffee table and match our home decor, including the fridge beautification project (more to come on that later...). Aren't they awesome? Unfortunately, we found out that the sealant that I used over the decoupage is not heat safe, so I need to come up with another way to seal them if we want to use them as trivets as well. Once I figure it out, I'll probably make a new batch--they were so quick and easy! Seriously, probably only ten minutes active time for the whole batch (24 hour drying period required).

Lovely, no?


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hooray for Home!

Welcome, all! This is a place for my DIY projects, ruminations on being newly married, and whatever else seems fitting to be posted here. Hope you enjoy!