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Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

May 28, 2013

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Happy belated Memorial Day! I’ve written before about how much I love summer in New England. It really is magical. And as it should, Memorial Day this year truly marked the beginning of the season. It was rainy and cold Saturday and Sunday, but Monday….well Monday was gorgeous! In celebration of the beginning of summer and the wonderful season of fruit pies, I decided to make a strawberry rhubarb pie. Pie-making has always been something that scared me a bit.  I think the fear stems partially from the endless butter vs. shortening debate, but I also just think I haven’t gotten enough practice. So this summer I’m determined to master the pie. On the agenda is blueberry, cherry, and peach. So keep your eyes peeled for those in future posts.

But back to THIS pie. I had never purchased rhubarb before. Heck, I hadn’t even tasted it. So of all pies, this was an especially scary one with which to start. For those who don’t know, rhubarb is that random thing in the grocery store that sort of looks like magenta celery. In case you’re curious like I was (so I totally wikipedia-ed it), rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but for the purposes of tariffs, the United States recognizes it as a fruit, since that is how it is most often used. Just a little fun fact for you.

gathering ingredients

I actually took care of the hard part of the pie on Sunday, putting together the dough and letting in sit in the fridge overnight. Then all I had to do on Monday morning was chop up the fruit, toss it with the sugar, constarch, and spices, then roll out the dough. I decided to go the extra mile and create a lattice top to the pie. It doesn’t affect the flavor at all, but I definitely think it looked prettier.

pie ready to go into the oven

So once the beautiful pie was baked and the fruit was bubbly. The pie sat. Sad. Without any place to go. I didn’t know anyone throwing a Memorial Day party, and the thought of digging in fork-first alone just seemed wrong. Fortunately, I happen to know a certain gentleman with a few roommates who was happy to give the pie a home…. at least for the few hours before it was devoured.

slice of juicy pie Read more…

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Sausage, Tomato & Basil Lasagna

May 15, 2013

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Every once in a while, my company gives us a random day off in the middle of the week. Just yesterday, they gifted us the day off in celebration of the company’s 45th anniversary, which we celebrated the night before with a lavish party with an open bar and dance floor (complete with glowsticks). May 14th shall now be known as national Hill Holliday hangover day, where the 600+ people in my office spent the day recovering on couches, sipping Gatorade, eating bacon, egg and cheeses and wondering why they drank so much champagne at the party the night before.

I could only let myself waste a small portion of the day fighting my champagne-induced headache (ok, there might have been a Fireball shot in there at some point). I had invited a guest over to dinner, and I wanted it all to be delicious. Fortunately, with my calendar empty I had plenty of time to prepare a meal that I hoped would impress.

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I love cooking for people and entertaining at my house, but I hate that it often forces me to be in the kitchen while others enjoy wine on my roof deck without me. Since it was just going to be me and my gentleman caller, I didn’t want to have to be slaving away in the kitchen while he watched. The beauty of this lasagna is that I could make it all earlier in the day, and all I had to do is stick it in the oven before he arrived. Then I got to play the “Oh, this little thing? Easy as pie!” card when he arrived and I pulled out a beautiful, colorful lasagna.

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To be fair, this really isn’t a very difficult recipe. And weirdly the repetitive nature of layering the lasagna was sort of therapeutic to my hangover. Hearing how much he liked the dinner and watching him take seconds, well that was the best hangover cure of all! Read more…

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Strawberries

March 24, 2013

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In my younger years, Saturday nights were always about going out to bars, drinking too much, and spending the day after in a miserable state of hungover in front of too many episodes of Kardashian drama. But with my advanced age (I turn 26 in less than a week–YIKES), I’ve learned that some of the best nights are those spent staying inside with a group of friends, enjoying a homecooked meal and delicious pound cake.

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Last night a group of my girl friends (and some of their boyfriends and moms), spent the night in eating sweet potato black bean quesadillas (Thanks Ash!) and trying out this new recipe for pound cake from the Joy the Baker cookbook. I recently saw a Julia Child quote on Pinterest: “A party without cake is just a meeting.” I completely agree.

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Read more…

How to Survive Valentine’s Day as a Single Lady

February 15, 2013

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Single women around the world dread Valentine’s Day. To be honest, I think a lot of women in relationships do too. I’ve spent a LOT of Valentine’s Days without a valentine in my life, and this year I think I really mastered the art of being single on Valentine’s Day. Here’s my how to guide:

  1. Wake up and go to the gym. This day, you want to feel good about yourself. So wake up, go to the gym, for a run, do yoga—whatever it is that will make you feel good about yourself.
  2. Wear Pink. Or Don’t. It doesn’t matter. When you go to get dressed, don’t let the fact that’s it’s February 14th dictate what you wear. Have a great pink dress that you want to rock today? DO IT. Think that blue sweater is more your style today? That’s fine! Personally I wore a grey t-shirt because it was on the top of the pile of clean clothes I hadn’t folded the night before.
  3. Don’t be bitter. Bitter isn’t attractive on anybody. Look. I get it. Valentine’s Day reminds you of how single you are. But don’t be bitter. Let those that are in relationships relish in their happiness and you just keep chugging along. Did your coworker get a dozen beautiful roses from her boyfriend of 2 weeks? Give her a smile and tell her how lucky she is. Don’t go off on a spiel about it being a stupid Hallmark holiday. It won’t make you feel better and it will only hurt your friend’s feelings.
  4. Don’t get drunk. It’s tempting to go out with your girlfriends for a Gal-entine’s Day and drink a bottle of wine…each. But let’s be honest. Chances are you’re going to call an ex-boyfriend or sob your whole cab ride home. I recommend just doing whatever it is you normally do on a Thursday night. For me, that meant going to the grocery store and eating dinner in front of the TV. I wonder why I’m single….
  5. Avoid RomComs. As you sit in front of the TV and flip through the channels on Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to avoid them. But watching Ryan Gosling kiss Rachel McAdams in the rain is not going to make you feel good about your life. So just don’t do it. Turn on an old episode of Friends or watch Sunday’s episode of Girls. Let’s be honest- if you compare your life to Hannah’s, you’re probably in good shape.
  6. Bake something delicious. My team at work is having a “Lovers and Loners” party this afternoon and I needed to make something for the event. I chose to make food for the theme “Match Made in Heaven,” and clearly what goes better together than peanut butter and chocolate? Nothing. So I made this Triple-Layer Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache. And because I’m a good roommate, I made single-sized portions for my roommate and I to enjoy. Read more…

Coconut Snowball Cake with Chocolate Trees

February 13, 2013

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It’s winter in Boston. And that means snow.

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LOTS of snow.

Last weekend we got hit with a big blizzard that dumped almost 30 inches of snow on Boston. Offices were closed, public transportation was down, and the worst of the worst happened….even bars were closed.

After drinking all the bourbon I had in the house Friday night with the help of some friends, I was okay being hunkered down in my apartment all day Saturday to recover as the snow continued to fall. But by Sunday, the cabin fever was at its worst and I had to get out of the house. First I took Rugby exploring.

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Then I tried to conquer this.

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That’s my car….somewhere underneath there. My poor little Jeep was waiting to be saved. As a single lady, the only thing I dread about snow is shoveling. That’s a man’s job. But I’m an independent woman and I was determined to prove I could do it myself. I got this far before trying to bribe people with salted fudge brownies to help me finish.

Salted fudge brownies ALWAYS do the trick. But I think next time, I’ll make this cake seeing as its blizzard appropriate. I made this at Christmas for my family and it was a hit. The cake is an Ina Garten recipe, and as always, the Barefoot Contessa didn’t fail me. The cake was moist and frosting plentiful. Since I was home in Breckenridge for Christmas, I added the trees along the edges to be more festive. The original recipe called for it to be made into cupcakes, which is probably a little less messy, but the cake is over the top and looks like a giant snowball, which is pretty darn fun.      

 

Read more…

Amaretto Bundt Cake

December 23, 2012

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I’m not sure when it happened. Maybe it was gradual over time, or maybe it was after one particularly successful night. But somewhere over the last few years, I’ve become a…baking snob.

I never would have predicted it would happen. I, who would happily make a Funfetti cake for friends’ birthdays in college, am a stuck-up baker. I turn up my nose at pre-made pie dough. I scoff at tubs of icing. And to make something whose recipe calls for a base of boxed yellow cake mix? BLASPHEMY. But when I was home for Thanksgiving and teased my mom about her new recipe for an apple pie that called for pre-made frozen dough (which, to be fair, was fabulous), she reminded me of a favorite recipe of mine that starts with a box of yellow cake mix.

In the summer of 2009, I had just graduated from college and was living at home for a couple months before heading off to my first post-graduation job. During that time, my mom was helping out a local organization that was putting together a cookbook for Summit County, CO. Every week my mom would get a list of recipes to test out and critique. Being the helpful daughter that I am, I of course offered to be the sous chef on these adventures. I remember my mom opening up the recipe document, and questioning the ingredients. Honestly, what kind of recipe has both yellow cake mix AND instant vanilla pudding? But the task at hand was to make the recipe exactly as directed and see how it turned out. So we did. And OH. MY. GOD.

Last week we had a brunch-off at my office. To be fair, this cake isn’t really brunch. It’s dessert. It’s rich and gooey, but it’s one of the most delicious things I could think of making. So my co-workers were treated to this. And to be honest, I was very disappointed no one quoted this: http://youtu.be/0JwwOkf4j0c

Just a quick note- the picture above does NOT do this cake justice. Trust me on this one. Read more…

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

December 10, 2012

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It’s literally been so long since I came to blog that I forgot my login and password. That’s REALLY pathetic.

But today I went to the Holiday Market organized by Eat Boutique and was re-energized. I heard about the market a couple months back when Joy the Baker mentioned she was going to be there signing her new cookbook. As an avid reader of Joy’s blog, I marked my calendar and got psyched to meet her. I didn’t really pay much attention to the fact that there would be an entire market of other stuff going on until I went to buy my ticket.

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When I walked into the market (which was luckily just a little over a mile from my apartment in South Boston), I was shocked how much they had going on. Small batch food vendors were abound and I could hardly hold myself back from trying everything. First things first though, I had to buy my cookbook and get in line to meet Joy. I waited for a little under two hours, but was fortunate to meet a fellow blogger in line named Jenna and her friend Kaitlyn. Jenna’s blog is called The Paleo Project, and told me about a Boston Bloggers group that I’ll definitely have to check out.

When it was finally my turn to meet Joy, I was weirdly nervous. I had to remind myself….she’s just a normal person. I also had to remind myself that even though I feel like I know her since I’ve been reading her blog for a long time, I don’t ACTUALLY know her. She was super sweet and took a couple minutes to chat and sign my book. She gave me suggestions for what to make for my brunch-off at work next week, so co-workers beware, I think I’ve got the winning recipe now.

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After making a few purchases (hello bourbon smoked sugar), I left the market on a blogger high and decided to celebrate meeting Joy by making something out of her cookbook. Being that this blog is supposed to be about reeling in men through my baked goods, there are several standout options, but I decided to go with the Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies. In her notes above the recipe, Joy calls them “downright perfect.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but they are definitely delicious. Eat your heart out gentleman, the manliest of man cookies has arrived.  Read more…