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Monthly Archives: February 2011

it’s the freakin’ weekend!

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How about a margarita?

Or even better…margarita cookies??!?

Just say yes!

Last week was my good friend Joy’s birthday. This past year, her birthday fell on Fat Tuesday, and we all had a grand old time at Mardi Gras.

mardigrasbday.bmp Last Wednesday, before this whole “flu business,” I was faced with the decision of what I could do for Joy to celebrate her birthday that would really say “me” and “Joy” all at the same time. I decided that making/baking something would be friendly to my wallet and would also be very “me.” I pondered…“What does Joy like? More than most anything…?”

Answer: tequila.

But how to manifest this into a baked treat? My first thought was “margarita cookies!” I didn’t this could be a real thing, but when I hit up Google, I found several recipes. I went with this one from Smitten Kitchen. (Hers look a little better than mine, but I will definitely have many chances to perfect mine—this one’s a keeper!) Mandy came over to help me make these little beauties and even contributed an ingredient or two.

DSC08415 The tricky thing about this recipe was the time required to refrigerate the dough. I’m here to tell you that in a pinch, you can easily pop it into the freezer instead.

You can get the exact recipe on the SK site, but here’s the basics on what you’ll need:

    unsalted butter
    confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    egg yolks
    pinch of salt
    tequila
    orange and lime zest
    all-purpose flour

    coating:
    clear sanding or other coarse sugar*
    flaky Maldon sea salt*

*I used regular sugar, regular salt and a pinch of kosher salt. I tasted it to make sure I got the proportions the way I wanted them.

As for the method, you mix it up and pop the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. I put mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes, which worked perfectly. Next, you roll the dough balls into dough logs, and pop those in the fridge for two hours. I didn’t have two hours, so I put it in the freezer for around 20 minutes.

DSC08412 They came out of the freezer firm and ready to be put to good use.

I went there.

So, you brush the logs with egg yolk and roll them in the sugar/salt mixture. I took this opportunity to make the logs a more uniform size as I rolled them out.

DSC08413 After that, you just slice them up (which is easy since the dough has been chilled) and bake them!

DSC08416 I really need to get a Silpat so my cookies bake more evenly. Next time I think I’ll bake these on my pizza stone.

These tasted amazing! I really think it was the salt/sugar “rim.” The zest gives a really good flavor, and you can definitely tell that butter is an integral part of the recipe. To give these to Joy, I was a little hard-pressed to find something other than an old Blue Bonnet tub. I ended up emptying the lentils from one of my Ball jars, filling it with cookies and placing a square of fabric between the lid and the jar. I also wrote the recipe down on these lovely new recipe cards I have.

DSC08418Oh, and I included a mini bottle of Jose! I think she liked it. We all devoured the extra cookies at the table.

Do you give baked goods as presents? What’s the most unique cookie you’ve made? I wonder if there’s a recipe for a sweet tea cookie? Eh? Maybe I should make one!

stick it in your ear Thursday: Adele

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I love music. That seems like such a trite statement. Who ever really says, “I hate music”? I mean, I know we don’t all like the same things. But I really like what I like.

Anyway.

Here’s what I’m loving on today!

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Adele released her latest album, 21, this past Tuesday. Here are just a few reasons why I love her:

  1. Her voice is amazing. It’s like Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin had a baby that popped out with red hair, white skin, and British accent.
  2. She’s so adorable! I love that she has a real figure and natural beauty in addition to that velvety voice.
  3. Her lyrics are amazing. Seriously. Listen to 19, her 1st album, if you haven’t already. You’ll find it hard to believe she was 19 when she wrote that, and consequently 21 when she made this newest album. (Sensing a theme here??)

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Isn’t she gorgeous??!?

I’m still making my way through this newest album, and it’s been quite a treat for the ears thus far. My favorite songs right now are “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumor Has It.” Actually, I’d be willing to say that “Rumor Has It” is my favorite. It has a great beat and fun lyrics. “Set Fire to the Rain” is another good one (my sister really likes it, too).

If you’re curious to hear before you buy, check out the entire album on NPR. (Thanks for the head’s up, Jen!) Not sure how long it’ll be up, so head over there fast!

If you’re interested in purchasing it, as I think you should, it’s pretty affordable right now. On iTunes, it’s just $9.99 and includes a bonus song, “I Found a Boy.” At Target.com, you can order it online and get a bonus CD with 4 extra tracks for just $9.99 as well.  Amazon.com also has the album for download for just $9.99, and Best Buy has the lowest price with the CD priced at $7.99. Note: Many of these prices may just be for the 1st week; I know a lot of places with do that.

Do you like Adele? Have you heard the new album yet? What are you listening to right now?

well, there goes my streak.

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I’ve never had the flu in my life.

Scratch that.

Until yesterday, I had never had the flu. Alas, after spending three hours at the doctor’s office, after chest and sinus x-rays, and after having stuff jammed up my nose (flu test), down my throat (strep test) and in my arm (the dreaded bloodletting), it was confirmed: My body has been in-flu-trated. (Sadly, I can’t take credit for that last pun; my boyfriend deserves all the glory. What can I say? Like minds think great. Or something.)

Everything was just dandy this past weekend, but as I drifted off to sleep on Sunday, I noticed my throat was feeling a little sore. Monday, it was a little worse, but not terrible. But then, at around 2pm on Monday, it was like someone flipped a switch. I felt achy and tired and my face was all flushed. Basically, I felt like this:

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Gorgeous, I know.

After I came home, I was hit with chills only to be sweating like crazy minutes later, a horrible pounding headache, and a sunburn-like feeling on my back. It was bad. Then I started wheezing and couldn’t stop coughing. I placed more than one call to my momma, not going to lie. She knows when I need the long-distance babying via phone.

Yesterday morning I still felt awful and knew I should probably go to the doctor. I managed to find my thermometer, and the news wasn’t good.DSC08552 The sad thing was, that wasn’t even the worst of it. When I finally made it back to the area where they took my vitals at the doc, the nurse looked at the thermometer in astonishment. “This can’’t be right…it won’t stop going up.”

After casually whispering “That’s what she said,” under my breath, I told her that I thought my thermometer was broken because it kept giving me such high readings. She asked what the highest reading I got was, and I told her 101.8. When it finally stopped ticking at the office, it landed on 102.2.

On top of that, my blood pressure was super high. I get White Coat Syndrome really bad, and I cannot stand the thought of needles or even having my throat swabbed. Sadly, that was all in the cards for me.

In the way of lab work, I had to had a throat culture done, which I used to think was the worst. I soon found out that was cake compared to the flu test. They have to jab this long stick up your nose—on both sides. The second go round, she had to do it twice because it got caught on my nose ring. Splendid.

Then came the bloodletting. It wasn’t too bad, especially after I convinced her to do it on my arm instead of my finger. I requested some juice and crackers, because I usually get really sick when I have to get pricked. (Insert obvious joke) Case in point: When I had my Gardasil shot, I almost passed out and had to lie down. For the next two visits I had to get the remaining shots, they had a juice box waiting on me each time. Here’s what I got:

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Room service it ain’t. That’s Ritz crackers and a liquid glucose drink. (Oh, and My Life in France. I needed it after I finished the 1st book I brought while waiting.) It did make me feel better, considering I had not been able to eat anything since about noon.

Anyway, after all this and also having chest and sinus x-rays, another first for me, the doctor loaded me up with expensive prescriptions and work excuse for the next 3-5 days. In addition to my pills, I’m self-medicating:

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Add to that alternating air conditioning and extra blankets when necessary, a stack of good books, Netflix instant queue, and plenty of soup.

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Thanks, E!

Have you ever had the flu? Or are you practically super-immune like me? What are some of your personal feel-better solutions? I thought about Samantha’s no-fail Fanta/cough syrup drink remedy but decided against.

*cough, cough* I’m sick.

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Boo, you whore.

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Naw, really. I do feel pretty crappy.

I managed to make myself a decent dinner, though. It was exactly what I wanted:

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BBQ tempeh, roasted broccoli, and Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes.

I had a pretty good weekend, too, full of good eatin’. I cleaned like a madwoman, breaking to make the most amazing apple cinnamon muffins—a recipe I will share soon.

Right now I just want sympathies.

And chloriseptic spray. Remember that? Man, we used to practically drink it.

Probably not the best thing to do when you’re 8.

What do you like when you’re sick? What are your comfort foods? As you can see, I really wanted my mashed potatoes. It was so worth the time I spent stumbling in the kitchen from my sickness-induced vertigo.

local flavor: Valentine’s weekend

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As I said in my last post, Jonathan and I did most of our celebrating the weekend before Valentine’s day. We started out on Friday night with dinner at a fun place I’d only been to for happy hour: 26.

After browsing the menu, we decided to start out with a sushi roll. The two of us settled on the Spicy Hawaiian Tuna: Red Pepper, Sambal, Cucumber Macadamia Nuts, Toasted Coconut.IMG_0662IMG_0663

(Please excuse the iPhone photos; I forgot to bring my camera into the restaurant!)

The menu had so many yummy-sounding things! It was hard to decide, but in the end, I couldn’t quite get past the seared Ahi tuna served over vegetable lo mein.

IMG_0664 Bad picture, delicious meal! The tuna was cooked perfectly, rare, and the outside had the tastiest crust. The lo mein was the perfect balance without being too salty.

Jonathan ordered what our waiter called the “seafood pasta,” though it sounded more colorful than that on the menu: Gulf Coast Shrimp, George’s Bank Sea Scallops, Prosciutto Ham, Shiitake Mushrooms, Sweet Peas, Handmade Strozzapretti Pasta, Sage White Wine Cream.

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Geez…what an awful picture. This was great, too—creamy and very fresh.

After dinner, I surprised Jonathan with something I thought would be ridiculously fun: tickets to go see 1999: A Tribute to Prince.

It. Was. Awesome.IMG_0669It was hard with the light show to get any good shots. I have several mental pictures tucked away though, and they are of perfect quality.

Saturday was a really fun day, too. We started with a really light breakfast.DSC08317  That is local bread from Big Sky Bread, a Pink Lady apple, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses and smoothies containing banana, berries and pineapple.

After lazing around for a while, we headed to downtown Homewood to eat lunch at Saw’s. I’ve eaten there a few times, but he had never experienced it. I deemed it a must.

I had the smoked chicken and side of mac and cheese, and Jonathan went with the pulled pork plate, along with mac and a side of greens.

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Oh, and we had some frosty beverages.

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After lunch, we took a little a short walk over to Edgewood Creamery. It was such a lovely day, and what better time for ice cream?! Look what I found out front:

DSC08321 You’re beautiful, too, Edgewood Creamery!

I had German Chocolate…I can’t remember what Jonathan got 😦 It was good, though!DSC08333DSC08334

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Cute, huh?

I loved the celebs on the menus:

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Mighty Vulcan!

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Lady Liberty!

That was my weekend in a nutshell 🙂 We’ve been having some awesome weather, and I’ve been celebrating by making my way around some of my favorite Birmingham places. Local love!

celebrating VD

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Happy Val-late-tine’s Day!

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(Yes, Sarah, he brought me flowers! But no roses 🙂

Hope yours was special! I never really had a valentine until I started dating Jonathan.

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We don’t really celebrate. I mean, I wanted to really badly the first year, then the second year I got really upset because I got him something I put a lot of thought into and he didn’t get me anything (not that I needed anything, but I felt really silly). This year, I did have a surprise for him, but we mostly played it low-key.

I hate when people get all haughty and say crap like, “Oh we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. How very silly and petty of you.”

F. That.

I wanted a long time to actually have someone to celebrate V-day with, and dammit, I want it to be special! Not that every day with J isn’t special, blah blah blah. And the like.

One special treat this Valentine’s: My sister was in town! She had a doctor’s appointment, and I did, too, so I took a half day from work and we treated ourselves to lunch.DSC08372That would be yellowtail and scallion sushi at Surin. Yum!

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On the left, my chicken masaman (basically a curry with avocado and cashews) and Autumn’s Thai noodle. These are two of my favorite dishes here, but there is so much good to be had.

Shortly after, Autumn and I headed off to my appointment. That’s when the incident occurred.

Back story: My windows on my car froze shut over Christmas. They all eventually thawed out, save for the ever-essential driver’s-side window. It’s not really been much of an issue—at least it keeps me from hitting the drive through, right? Well, when it came time for me to park in the deck at my doc’s office, I accidentally hit the button out of habit to work the window. “Oh, dang,” I thought. “That still sucks.”

We found a spot near the elevator, and as I prepared to exit the motor vehicle, I realize that the window is cracked a little. “Wow!” I naively thought. “The window has miraculously healed itself!”

Not quite.

My sister pointed. “Uh…it’s still going down….IT’S STILL GOING DOWN!!!”

(insert obvious that’s what she said joke here)

I attempted to save the window, but it was too late. With a loud noise, the glass fell into the damn door.

My sister was forced to stay in the car to keep the car safe and make the call to my father neither one of us wanted to make while I attempted to navigate the halls of a hospital I only have to visit once a year and therefore cannot find my way around.

Long story not-so-long: I had to drive to meet my dad (with the window down and consequently out) so that he could fix my car.

Jonathan and I were able to make it home to make a dinner I wouldn’t necessarily write home about. The veggies were good, but the rest? Eh.

DSC08391Roasted asparagus and purple potatoes, with grouper topped with a cherry “sauce.” It sounded good in theory, but I should’ve known better. The cherries weren’t in season, and the method didn’t really allow the sauce to reduce or anything.

I mean, I ate it.

The next part was the best.

DSC08396DSC08397DSC08406I bought the stuff to make these Peanut Butter-Chocolate Puff Pastry Pillows (say that five times fast) from Joy the Baker a few months ago, but this is the first time I’ve gotten around to it.

Oh, wow.

Or oh, shit.

They were that good. I love puff pastry. I could probably eat it on its own. Combined with two of my other very favorite things, it was a match made in my kitchen pastry heaven. We also had another special treat:

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I’ll take ya to the chocolate shop…I’ll let ya lick the—

Wait, where was I? Oh yes. This wine. It boasted to be the “chocolate lover’s wine.” Now, while I’m sure there are much greater experts than I, I consider myself up the challenge of judging such a hefty claim.

It tasted…interesting. Very light, and chocolatey. I didn’t hate it, but it honestly felt like a novelty. Perfect for V-day, I guess!

We did most of our celebrating over the weekend (more later), but we still managed to enjoy February 14. How about you? Do you and your significant other celebrate Valentine’s?

in my mouth: food overload

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about What I Put in My Mouth This Weekend. What better time than the present? Especially since I did a lot of shoveling food into my piehole these past several days.

It started on Friday night, when I headed home to my grandparents’ house with Jonathan to visit my family and celebrate some birthdays. My Aunt Athena is arguably one of the very best cooks, and she made a delicious yet simple feast for us to chow down on. (Or, a delicious feast on which we chowed down.)

DSC08171 Corn (with no butter, thanks Aunt Athena), green beans, steamed cabbage, stuffing with cranberries and turkey. I couldn’t finish all my turkey, but I happily consumed the rest. I had to leave room for this:

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Pac-Man cake! My aunt made this lemon beauty for my Aunt Alice’s birthday. It was also my Aunt Angie’s birthday, and my grandfather as well. (He turned 81!)

J and I headed home after dinner to prepare for our trip to Chattanooga in the AM. One of his friends got married in the chapel on UTC’s campus, and we were heading up for the ceremony and reception.

We got a healthy start, stopping at Subway to try out their breakfast sandwiches I’d been wanting to try.

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I had the Western, with egg white omelet, pepperjack cheese, bell and banana pepper and green onion. In hindsight, mustard would’ve made it better. J went with the steak and egg white, adding peppers and tomatoes and cheddar cheese. My verdict? Pretty tasty! I’d definitely opt for one again.

After a surprisingly quick trip up to Chatt-town, we found our hotel and stopped at a local watering hole, the Honest Pint. Don’t judge—it was after noon.

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The inside was very cool. We talked to the bartender, Travis, about the building and it’s previous uses. One of the previous businesses? A brothel. Nice.

DSC08179Jonathan chose a porter that I can’t remember the name of. It came in a huge mug was nice and dark. (That’s what…?)

I had a Left Hand Black Jack Porter. It was a high gravity and something I’d not had before.

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Mischief managed.

After checking in at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo (!!!), we hurried to get ready for Brandon and Kristin’s wedding. It was really lovely. I didn’t take any pictures of the ceremony, and I only got one real picture of them at the reception…and it wasn’t the best. I like to tell myself I was being artsy, and that’s why it’s so blurry.

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And I did, of course, get a quick shot of what I crammed in my mouth at the event.DSC08187

Some sort of bruschetta (goat cheese/tomatoes on toast), prime rib with a roll, grilled squash and asparagus and onion, a spinach quiche and some wine. It was awesome. I wanted to go back for more, but we were sitting with a group of people I didn’t know, and since I was sitting so much to rest my feet, I didn’t want them to think all I did was eat and drink 😦 In hindsight, I should’ve just gone back for more. I did keep it classy, San Diego, with just one glass of wine and a beer. (Blue Moon on tap! I had to.)

Here are some of the only pictures I got of the two of us:

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The next day, we visited a local pub, the Terminal Brewhouse. The inside was very cool (I didn’t get a lot of pictures; it started getting busy), and the food and service were both great.

We started with their Festo Bread—a feta basil pine nut olive oil on fresh, local bread.

DSC08203 And what’s one of the first things you order at a brewpub?DSC08197

Cheesesticks! No, I mean, BEER! It was all local and all awesome. I ended up having half of these (split with J) and a pint of the seasonal Scottish ale. J went with the IPA.

The menu was really fun, with witty descriptions of the dishes.DSC08196

Any Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans? Anyone?

I almost went with the Fru Fru (listed above), but instead I had the Chick Power with grilled chicken, bacon, onions, mushrooms and mozzarella.

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With sweet potato fries.

Jonathan had the Tony Montana: ham, pepperoni, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.

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And a side of grits with bacon and cheese (I think?).

We both gave this two enthusiastic thumbs up. Or four thumbs, rather.

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Sadly, while the lighting was good for taking food pictures, I look like I have no facial features in the photo above 😦

Sunday night was the ultimate foodfest: Superbowl.

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Sigh. I can never managed to watch my spinach dip close enough when I decide to broil the cheese on top. It tasted alright, though.

There was so much food…Joy made these awesome cheeseburger pinwheels.

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Here she is, shaking down her meat log.

The finished product was delish:

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And then even more…

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Themed cupcakes, strawberry cupcakes, pigs-in-a-blanket, cheese, pepperoni and olive on-a-stick, grilled bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese, fried Wickles (they’re not just pickles!). And not pictured: guacamole, sausage balls, rotel dip, carrots (I felt like I had to bring something healthy) and chips.

Phew! I told you there was a lot of food. Did you eat a lot of Superbowl treats this weekend?