2.24.2012

Sick Day Ginger Ale

Sick days aren't fun – unless you aren't really sick. But in my case – I'm sick, therefore no fun here. The past two days I've been home.

Inside.

It has been 75 degrees and sunny in Northern California. Said weather (I'm told) is not normal. I hate being sick on good weather days. And stupid colds aren't even normal for me. I usually get sick maybe once a year. Bleck. It's that time of year I guess.

Enter movies, pjs, blankets, a roll of tp for my runny nose, and comfort food. Yesterday, when I left work early, all I wanted was a grilled cheese and soup. I got home, made one, and I instantly felt... well not better, but happier.

Today, my comfort craving was ginger ale, but I didn't want the stuff from the store, I wanted REAL ginger ale. Plus, movies and tv get a little boring after several hours and I needed something to do.
So I made some. And it was good. And I felt a bit better afterward. Yay!

Sick Day Ginger Ale
Adapted from Simple So Good
What Ya Need
1 1/2 Cup of Chopped Fresh Ginger
1 1/2 Cup Water
A Little Less than 1 Cup Turbinado Sugar
Sparkling Water
Fresh Lemon
Fresh Lime
Fresh Mint

Here's How Ya Do It:
  1. Peel and chop the ginger. I used a combination of a paring knife and veggie peeler.
  2. Place ginger in a sauce pan with the water over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for 5-7 minutes
  3. Cover the saucepan and remove from the heat. Let this sit for about 45 minutes to an hour.
  4. Drain the liquid using a cheese cloth or strainer and set the ginger aside.
  5. Return liquid to the pan and add sugar. Cook this over medium heat and continue to stir until sugar dissolves.
  6. Cool, pour into an airtight container for storage, then piece together your beverage together.
To assemble:
Squeeze a quarter or the fresh lemon and lime into a glass, add mint leaves (sliced or chopped) and 3 tablespoons of the syrup. Add 6 ounces sparkling water and stir. Adjust taste as needed. You may want more syrup or more mint, ya know. Do your thing. Then add ice and enjoy.

OH! Remember those pieces of ginger you set aside...don't waste them. Lay them out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle sugar all over them. Let them sit out overnight and you'll have candied ginger in the morning. (Mine is still laying out so I don't know how good it is yet, but I figured, what the heck, let's try it out.) I saw this idea here.
Cheers!

Erica

2.22.2012

Visitor #4

What a lucky girl I am. I've only lived here 7 months and have had so many lovely visitors.

Things I love:
Long weekends
Visitors
Coffee
Food

Friends

Bonus – I got all of them this weekend.

And I love when I eat my way through cities and towns. The husband likes to hike up the enormous hills in the city, so when we go there and stuff our faces and drink amazing beer, I tend not to feel as bad afterwards.



Top of the hill from our city hike.

But first, my visitor. The lovely, beautiful Jaye. 


She is doing Team in Training in Denver right now. Did run much before she joined and she joined in the middle of flipping winter. How brave is that? Her first run - it was 9 degrees outside! Go Jaye – because that is borderline crazy town. She is doing great with her training and I am super proud of her( p.s. if you have an extra $5, help her out and donate HERE. DO IT!). This weekend she took a break from the snow and ran with with my team. We got a bit lost trying to get there, but we made it and ran our miles. All part of the adventure...

After our run she introduced me to Phliz Coffee in Berkeley and oh my…



It’s just about as good as Blue Bottle – actually, it may be a bit better. Only because they have boat loads of choices. They brew one cup at a time and I feel like it is the perfect cup just for me. There are so many fabulous places for coffee in the Bay Area, why would anyone go to Starbucks again?

Then we went next door to the Guerilla CafĂ© for a bite to eat. I had a poached egg for the first time and look how cute my toast is (its heart shaped)…yum.



Sunday, we ate some FANTASTIC ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. We waited like 20 minutes, but it was totally worth it. We made a game plan though when we saw the line. We went up the street to a Philz before so we could drink awesome coffee while waiting in line. It helped, but I forgot about the wait as soon as I got my ice cream. I had a combo of salted caramel and roasted banana. I will go back again. And wait in line again. and again. and again...

Then we went to the Bi-Rite Market and Jaye got a pretzel with pumpkin seeds on top. After we tasted how delicious it was, I turned to Jaye and said "let’s go home and make some pretzels." And we did. Yep – we just whipped up some pretzels on a Sunday night. They were OK – not great – I will make some adjustments and share the recipe soon. They looked pretty good though.





Then we laughed a lot at this video because it's pretty true. Even though I've only lived around here for a short time - I say a least a dozen of these things, so the people that live in the city most likely say all of them.






Then Monday we went wine tasting in Napa – in a limo. Yeah, I know. We are high class ladies.




All and all I could not have ask for a better weekend with even better company.

One more thing...song for the weekend...



Thanks Jaye for coming to visit me!!!


Fun, random pic of us.

Until next time…

2.21.2012

Mix & Match

Last week my BoMF team had a dessert potluck as a Valentine's Day social for the non-res members. I decided I wanted to make Red Velvet Thumbprint Cookies from How Sweet It Is.

Now, if you know me, then you know I don't like cream cheese (or whipped cream or sour cream). I just can't stand the taste! I also LOVE red velvet cake and usually when I have it, I just scrape off the icing. This is where my brilliant plan for mix & match comes in. I've made these "cupcakes" (also from How Sweet It Is) a couple of times now. The first time I made them, I was too tired to make the icing and I enjoyed them so much, that the second time I made them I just didn't want the icing. But I thought that icing might go nicely with the red velvet cookies I was getting ready to make. So I got to baking...

ingredients for the cookies
 When at the grocery store looking for red food coloring, I was getting so upset because all I could find was a pack of gel neon colors. Finally I looked away from the sprinkle/icing area and found the liquid red food coloring with the spices. Maybe I should've done the neon food coloring since I tend to use the more neon setting on my camera app.

sifted dry ingredients
When I was a little girl, my most favorite part of helping my grandma bake was sifting. I was super excited when I bought my sifter from Ikea for $5. I can't believe I waited almost 3 weeks before I actually used it. So fun! (It's the little things people!)

mixed up red goodness
I got to lick the batter since Maverick didn't make a sneak attack!

1" cookie dough balls
The recipe says to place the cookie balls about 2" apart on the baking tray. This turned out to be completely unnecessary since the cookies don't expand at all. 

finished mix & match
The recipe says it yields 20 cookies which is a pretty true number, and they're really small. It worked out perfect for the dessert potluck. I ended up not liking the icing. It was too sweet, but don't use me as a judge. I've come to the conclusion that I just dislike most icings. So for the potluck I set it up so that the guests could dip the cookies into the icing. Someone at the party had brought a version of these Cookie Dough Cupcakes, and Erica, I must say, although I haven't tasted yours...WOW! They were delicious!

I think next time I make these cookies, I'll make them bigger and skip the icing all together. And just as proof that I don't like icing...these boutique cupcakes I got from the cupcake truck last week suffered my icing scraping too!

raspberry lemonade & chocolate w/raspberry filling from Iced Gems

-Abbie

2.14.2012

Bandwagon

I'm not sure if you can jump on the bandwagon for a recipe or not, but if you can, that's certainly what I did! I've seen versions of this recipe in several places...Framed Cooks and Smitten Kitchen just to name a couple. All you need is canned or fresh tomatoes, butter, and onion! And I'll agree...it made a delicious sauce and I may or may not have lived off of it all last week (payday is this week people!).


I'm pretty sure that I used the wrong type of tomatoes since mine had basil, oregano, and garlic already in them. Also I cheated and used diced tomatoes instead of whole ones. But guess what? The sauce still turned out amazing. Therefore, I'm pretty sure that this recipe is foolproof and no matter what you do to it will still turn out the best tomato sauce ever. *Did I say anything? Well I'm sure that's not really true...


Simmering...simmering...simmering...


And get in my belly!

I chose to post this recipe on Valentine's Day because of the red sauce...ok, so maybe I didn't, but it's a hapy coincidence! Happy Valentine's Day!

-Abbie

2.12.2012

What the what?!

Yeah, it's that kind of cupcake.

These cupcakes are a big deal. Layers of goodness.
Seriously...look at these layers. Nothing but goodness see?
Light fluffy chocolate cake, stuffed with peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough and topped with sweet marshmallow meringue frosting and toasted to perfection!

Joy the Baker, you are a genius! She says in her post I can take credit for these cupcakes, but I truly cannot. I would have never come up with this combo…but I sure am glad she did. Bravo Joy!

These are the cupcakes that Jen and I made Friday night for her Stella and Dot Jewelry partay. The ones that I had to eat Kale for lunch because I figured I’d have these for dinner. Well, we ate some scraps of cake, left over cookie dough, mallow, and a cupcake that night and some dinner…whoops. Peanut butter is on my training diet and egg whites, that's OK right? Ek...

Anyway...

Make these. You will not regret your decision. Suggestion though – make them with a friend. They take a while and its way more fun.

Cupcake timmmme.

Check out Joy the Baker’s recipe as it is long and I did not change a thing. I originally was going to do a buttercream chocolate frosting, but figured I would try the original first. If it ain’t broken right? I'll try that frosting on something else...








Don't they look dreamy!


So do it.

Make them NOW.

Xo,

Erica

2.10.2012

Balancing Act

I'm making cupcakes tonight with my friend Jen.

Chocholate cupcakes, with a ball of cookie dough in the middle and chocholate buttercream frosting. Dang right?

And I didn't plan any thing for dinner. Dang again.

Welcome balancing.

Welcome kale.

That's right - its the theme this week. First the kale smoothie and now this kale salad. Delicious, hearty, rustic kale salad. That should balance out the cupcakes right? I hope...

I made this for lunch today with the intention to balance it out what I am guessing will be a not so healthy dinner. I couldn't be more excited to dig in! Its really, really, really, good. Really.

Raw Kale Salad
Printable version
Serves 1 (maybe 2, I eat a lot)
Original Recipe from 101 Cookbooks
What Ya Need:
1 Bunch of Kale, rinsed, stems removed, and leaves cut into strips
Handful of Breadcrumbs, homemade duh - see below
1 Lemon (for the juice) and a Bit of Zest
3 Teaspoons of Good Olive Oil
3-4 Teaspoons Shaved Parmesan Cheese
1 Clove of Garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper

Breadcrumbs
To make these crunchy treats, take a piece of bread and stick it in a blender until chopped up coarse or fine - your pick. In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, combine 1 teaspoon of olive oil and breadcrumbs and cook until golden brown. Season with a bit of s&p for taste.


Assembly!
  • Place strips of kale in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Chop up the garlic really fine and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Mash it up with the end of a fork until it turns into a paste-like form.
  • Place garlic in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons of the oil olive, the juice from the whole lemon, a few scraps of zest, 1 teaspoon of cheese and salt and pep and toss/stir/mix to combine
  • Toss the kale with the breadcrumbs and dressing. Top with more cheese and EAT!

This is great on its own, or it can be for 2 as a side dish. Pair with a piece of homemade bread or some grilled chicken and you are good to go. It may not be the best choice for balance with the cheese and bread crumbs, but it will make me feel better.

Now...about those cupcakes...


 Erica

2.08.2012

Going Green - Literally.

It’s no surprise to many people that I try to be “green” as much as I can. My parents and friends say I am a hippy, but they don't realize that today’s hippies don’t take showers and are really, really, really smelly and most don't have jobs and they like it that way. I shower frequently and have a job and pay bills, and have responsibilities etc etc.  Maybe I’m more of a modern hippy or something. Whatevs.

But I do to recycle. A lot. I buy local and in season as much as possible (with the expectation of bananas, and I am not close to giving those up yet). I like to buy organic. I like happy cows and chickens and eggs that can be free in green grass before I eat them (I can hear my dad scoffing as he reads this). And I like to know how to pronounce all the ingredients in my food which has boosted me into making several everyday items instead of buying them (bread, pita, salad dressing, bagels, and soon to be pickles, pasta and dare I say…butter!).

But in this instance, being green is taking on a literal meaning.

Organic (mostly) Local Green Monster Smoothie!
Of course, you don’t need all the ingredients to be local or organic, but why not contribute to you local economy at least? I’m very thankful that I now live in a state where most produce is local year round and farmer’s markets are available almost every day of the week. Most people don’t have such luxury. Anyway…on the smoothie. Don’t be scared, it’s truly good. I literally crave for it! I was orginally inspired by this recipe and changed things up a bit and made it a bit simplier.

What you need:
1 Cup/Bunch of Kale, washed and de-steamed if possible
1 Healthy Handful of Spinach (about 1 Cup)
1 Frozen Banana, chopped
1 Cup of Cold Almond Milk
1 Teaspoon Honey

The How To:
Blend Kale, Spinach and Almond Milk in a blender. Once bright green and smooth, add chopped frozen banana, and honey and blend more. Add more milk to achieve your desired consistency. Serves one.














At least give it a try…even the husband sipped it and didn't spit it out.
Pretty green...

Cheers!

Erica

P.S.
***TIP: Used cold mix and the frozen banana so your smoothie is cold, otherwise, it is a room temp taste - which isn't weird and not great. If your stuff isn't cold, use half cup of ice cubes. Also, if you banana is frozen, make sure to chopped it up, otherwise your blender will get mad at you. ***

2.07.2012

Weekend Adventures


At Chateau Morrisette

Enjoying IPA's at Dogtown



Swamplandia! with a side of earl grey


2 time dart champion


tools of the trade

This was a foggy, wet weekend spent in Blacksburg. Saturday we went wine tasting and then headed back to Floyd, VA to eat best Mexcian food ever. I don't even know the name of the restaurant to share with you! And no, it's deliciousness had nothing to do with the wine and IPA's we drank beforehand. Have you ever had a michelada? I had my first one on Saturday and it was pretty amazing. Sunday after a delicious breakfast I headed to Bollo's for some reading and tea drinking. Then I proceeded to beat Dan twice in darts...this time the IPA might have been to thank!

-Abbie

2.03.2012

Smooth Blending

So I've decided that a good way to get more fruits (and in this case veggies) in my diet is to have a smoothie with breakfast and drink V-8 at lunch. I say have a smoothie WITH breakfast because I tried having only it and let me tell you...it didn't work out too well for me. I was soo hungry and not a happy camper when I got to work.


My first go around was a strawberry cucumber smoothie recipe from Joy The Baker. Previously I haven't ventured into the almond/soy milk realm and cucumber in a smoothie is my first step towards a "green" smoothie. I must say, it was pretty delicious. I've made it three times this week! The recipe says 2 servings and it's defintiely two servings worth (sometimes I feel like those lie), but don't worry I drink both servings and eat breakfast...thanks a lot running...GOSH!


The recipe also calls for honey, but as you can see from my first photo, I used agave. The first day I used the last of my honey. I'm still not very confident in my ability to alter recipes so I used my "phone a friend" to make sure that agave wouldn't completely destroy the flavor. I got the go ahead nod and so I used 2 tsp of agave in place of the honey and I actually liked it better.


I'm not going to lie, having never had almond milk before, the first couple of sips were a little weird. The cucumber gives the smoothie a nice, refreshing taste...very similar to when it's added to a glass of water. I'm looking forward to making this one for a fourth day in a row. Happy blending!

-Abbie

PS - No, my smoothie isn't really neon pink...I just like the way the effects look :)
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