Friday, March 30, 2012

Maybe the arena is a giant cake...

Oh, The Hunger Games. By now, most of the world has read the book, seen the movie, or both. For a book with such a morbid, scary plot people have flocked to it in droves. It's kind of easy to see why, if you think about it.

First, it's plausible. Unlike certain vampire/werewolf series (not knocking, just saying), it has a plot that is something that could potentially happen to our world if there happened to be a catastrophic event. Second, although the love triangle thing is slightly over done, this series goes about it in a different way by having the heroine be a serious bad-ass who is naive and not even remotely thinking about love, while also having the setting for the triangle be a massive arena where kids fight to die. Yea, I'd say that's slightly unorthodox. And last, it's just fascinating. The make-up of the capitol seems to be what the Nicki Minaj's and Lady GaGa's of the world are doing in Hollywood. So, while far-fetched, its not THAT far fetched. I loved all the books, and have re-read them each about 8 times. It's just a very different story that is easy to get lost in. You WANT Katniss and Peeta to kick the capitol's ass. You WANT the districts to rebel. You want the same things these characters want, and to read about them fighting for it is a vehicle to another reality. Really great books. Except for the second half of Mockingjay, which felt way too rushed. Like someone said 'Hey! We have a huge series here. Get the third book out ASAP!' And it just didn't work. While the epilogue is okay, the part leading up to it is just ehh.

“Deep in the meadow, under the willow
a bed of grass, a soft green pillow
lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes
and when again they open, the sun will rise.
Here it's safe, here it's warm
here the daisies guard you from every harm
here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
here is the place where i love you.

Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when it's morning again, they'll wash away
Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.”
-Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

As for the movie, I loved it. I thought they did a really fantastic job. I'm not into spoilers, so I'm not going to give it all away here, but I really didn't think they left out too much. A few parts, yea maybe they could have spent a little more screen time on, but overall it was good. We were able to get peaks into a world that you weren't able to get through the books. The visuals were fantastic and Jennifer Lawrence is incredible. I think she would be my best friend, if you know I was famous and lived in Hollywood, too. I'm seeing the movie for the second time tonight, and I have a feeling I'll like it even more :)

Also, I laughed at this way more than I probably should have.
From Pinterest

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


And lemon...And chicken...And pasta...Amen.

This combination is HEAVENLY. Permanently going into my rotation. On SkinnyTaste the other day, Gia posted a recipe of Pasta with Asparagus. Sounds good, right? Well, as much as I like the idea of being vegetarian, I really don't think I could do it. So I needed to add some protein. I thought of shrimp or chicken (either of which would have been delicious, I'm sure) and decided on chicken. I had extra lemons from the French-style Yogurt Cake with Lemon that I made last week, and then decided further on lemon chicken. Oh, yum. I'm still thinking about good this was!

Lemon Chicken with Asparagus and Pasta
Recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste

For the chicken:

  • 7-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil

For the pasta and asparagus:

  • 1 lb asparagus, cut into 2" pieces (tough ends trimmed)
  • 6 oz uncooked pasta
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


1. In a large pot boil 4 cups water with salt. When boiling, add asparagus and cook 3-5 minutes, until tender crisp. Drain asparagus in colander reserving 1 cup liquid before draining.

2. Meanwhile, season chicken breasts with thyme, salt and pepper.
3. In a saute pan, heat the 1/4 olive oil for the chicken on medium heat. Add the 7-8 cloves of minced garlic, and saute for just a minute. Add chicken breasts to pan.
4. While chicken is cooking, squeeze half a lemon over chicken breasts. When you flip to brown the other side, squeeze the other half of the lemon over this side. Remove chicken from pan when done.
5. Fill empty asparagus pot with salted water, cover and boil for pasta. When water boils cook pasta according to package directions for al dente.
6. In the saute pan heat olive oil for asparagus. Add remaining garlic and cook until golden, add asparagus, salt and pepper and saute about 1-2 minutes, tossing with oil and garlic.
7. In a small bowl combine egg yolk, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1/4 cup reserved asparagus liquid, salt and pepper. Mix well. After pasta is drained return to pot and mix with egg mixture. Cook on medium-low about 2 minutes, until sauce thickens and sticks to pasta. Toss in asparagus and mix well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. If pasta seems too dry add more reserved liquid a tablespoon at a time.
Serve with sliced chicken breast on top and additional grated cheese.

I can't believe how cold its been this week, I hope it warms up soon. This recipe is definitely a springtime meal :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Walk for Cake

     Yesterday, I finished this book:

     Which I LOVED (thanks, E!) but when I was done, all I could think about was cake. This book, which has awesome recipes and a personal essay attached to each one about where Molly either first had or perfected the recipe that follows is a fantastic ode to cooking/baking and living life with no fear of food. It's beautiful! Reading it, all you want to do is EAT. A lot of her recipes are vegetarian, and they all sound delicious. Anyway, all I could think about was her French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon. So I made it. Oh, dear is it good. It's pretty easy and tastes like Spring (it's also the recipe that brought her husband to her, through her blog, Orangette. So sweet.)

    Anyway, the cake. It looks like this:

     It may not look like much, but it is yummy. Don't mind the piece missing, it had to be done. In order to make up for my cake craving, Shannon and I went for a 4.5 mile walk. I never realized that the path around the river went on forever. The city looks beautiful as you get farther away, but I only had the camera on my phone and that only does well close up. I'll bring the other camera and get some good pictures on our next walk.

    Moral of story: Walking made up for the cake. Not true, but I can pretend.

French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon
Recipe from Orangette

For The Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt (not low fat or nonfat)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

For The Syrup

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

For The Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter or cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and grease that as well.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the lemon zest and mix thoroughly.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring to mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir to just combine. Add the oil and stir well, until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 
5. Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan. Run a knife around the edge and invert onto a plate or baking sheet. Flip it again so the domed side is on top.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together syrup ingredients. Spoon syrup over warm cake. Cool completely.
7. In a small bowl, combine the icing ingredients. Whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. Spoon the icing over the cooled cake. Serve immediately.

Note: While I love lemon, with both of these glazes the lemon flavor is seriously strong. It is delicious as is, but next time I make it, I may replace the lemon juice in the icing with milk and make a thicker icing with a little less lemon flavor. The syrup adds enough of it.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patty's Day Supper

    Me (last week): Yes! St. Patrick's Day is this weekend, I'm going to make corned beef and cabbage! And soda bread! And Guinness brownies! Yum!
    Me (after working 13+ hours on Saturday because we got so busy at the restuarant): So. tired. Must eat something. Cold corned beef out of crock-pot it is.

     This weekend i was only supposed to work a morning shift on Saturday and one on Sunday. Which is perfect because then I still get my nights off. I had big plans for this weekend. For one, I had Guinness in my refrigerator after making Irish Car Bomb cupcakes a few weeks ago (recipe coming soon). So I needed to do something with it, and I ended up deciding on brownies on Friday night. They came out prettttttty damn good.

     Then, Saturday morning came around and I was so excited to make my corned beef. I decided to put the corned beef and vegetables in my crockpot and then cook the cabbage on the stove later in butter. Then I would make soda bread and we would have a feast! I alos had planned on spiking some heavy cream with whiskey and topping the brownies with that homemade whipped cream... Oh, that would have been good.

     Well, then I got to work, and we got SLAMMED so I never left until almost close. So my corned beef sat sad and alone in my crockpot for 5 hours longer than it needed to. My crockpot shuts off automatically after the time you've set it for, which is wonderful. But it was still so sad :(

     I would post the recipe for the corned beef, but literally all I did was put it in the crockpot, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and some ground thyme and allspice, pop new potatoes all around it, pour in a half a cup of Guinness, put some carrots and an onion cut into wedges on top, then pour in a cup of water. And set it for 8 hours in the crockpot on low. So easy. I already have a recipe I want to try for next year though! But I feel like it may make an appearance sooner...

     So, with my sad tale of St. Patrick's Day, I will leave you with Guinness brownies. And definitely make the whiskey-spiked whipped cream to go with it. I also don't have a picture because they went FAST.

     Hope ya got some leprechaun kisses this St. Patty's day.

Guinness Brownies
Adapted slightly from Blondie's Cakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups dark bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 large cans Guinness beer
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13" pan. (I used two 8 x 8's because some of them were traveling)
  2. Pour the beer into a medium saucepan, and simmer on medium heat until it's reduced down to 1 1/4 cups. It took mine about 20 minutes to reduce. I measured 1 1/4 cups into a mason jar and kept it next to an empty one. When I thought I was getting close, I poured the beer to be level with the example water jar. It ended up being a little bit more, and I'm impatient. But they still came out great.
  3. In a bowl mix together flour, cocoa, and salt.
  4. Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate and white chips in the microwave in a heatproof bowl. Stir after every 30 seconds.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.
  6. Beat reserved flour mixture into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in the reduced beer mixture and the vanilla.  Pour into the prepared baking pan and drop semisweet chocolate chips evenly on top of batter.
  7. Bake about 25 minutes on center rack in the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.
  8. Let brownies cool, uncovered, to room temperature.
Remember to share.

Update on Running

     So that whole running thing I was talking about? It went away. Not totally, but definitely has been on the back burner. Between working two jobs and figuring out my senior year schedule, I am TIRED. My friend Shannon and I did manage to go on a two hour walk last week and I went on another one by myself, and I ended up waitressing for a total of 19.5 hours this weekend unexpectedly (was only expecting maybe 10 or 12 hours...), so that's something I suppose. Shannon and I are walking again tonight, too.

     Last week, when we went walking we went on a new route along the Charles River. It was so beautiful out and the paths along the river were really cool, I didn't know they were even there! Then we discovered that Boston was basically burning down. Not seriously, but there was a huge fire downtown and as we walked by we got to see the smoke clouds. Then we got to walk through said smoke clouds. And then we got to cough. My dad texted me saying the smoke was toxic right as we were walking through it, so the was certainly a pleasant experience. It ended up not being toxic, just gross. A transformer had blown downtown in a parking garage and there was a MAJOR blackout. Most of downtown Boston was without power for a day or two. I was right on the edge of the power outage so luckily I still had it.

Here is a picture of lovely, smoke filled Boston:

Poor city. But it has recovered nicely, and we have since been rewarded with beautiful weather. :) And drunk St. Patty's day celebrators, but that's another story.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Je veux aller partout.

     I want to go everywhere. There are so many things I want to see and do before I settle down. Everyone says that, and a fortunate few actually get to experience the world. I want to be like that person who sells everything and backpacks around the world, working odd jobs and getting paid under the table until it's time to move on to the next adventure. At the same time, I realize that it is not as easy as it sounds (though some may argue) and that it requires a certain kind of person. While I certainly want wings, I also want roots. I want a home, and a good size kitchen, and to live near(ish) to the beach. I want to see things and then come home and grab a good book, and ride my (fictional, as of now) horse. And own a bed and breakfast. And a bakery. And, and, and...

     For now, my plan is to vacation. If I ever am given the opportunity to travel again whether for work or for any other reason, I will jump on it. Unfortunately, I let two opportunitys pass me by already. The first a student ambassador program to Austrailia and New Zealand in high school, but I don't think I was emotionally ready for that then. The second, more recently, was a month long trip with school to Ireland. As much as I wanted to go, I wanted an apartment in Boston, and also realized that when I go to Ireland, I don't want to spoil it with classes. I hate school, and being told what to do and when to go see what. As amazing as it would have been, I don't totally regret that decision (aside from school forcing me to pay for some of the trip I didn't go on - special, right?), because when I do get there it will be on my own terms. As of now, my only option is to plan and save like a fool and avoid almost all unnecessary expenses. Easier said than done in Boston, but I'm going to try like hell.

     Anyway, the reason for this rant like thing, is that one of my best friends from home, Katie, and I were talking recently about what we want to do with our lives. We both want to go somewhere, and seeing as I'm graduating in the spring, we started talking about a trip to Paris with a few days in London. Then this happened on a long train ride home:

I have a problem. I plan like a crazy person. But it was so fun reading about Paris! I knew of the big things, but there is so much I could never have dreamed of. And so, the countdown begins. About 14 months until I graduate, with a trip planned for June/July. Now to only get over my fear of flying...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Green Pepper Soup

            I like soup. I always have. Creamy and delicious clam chowder was my meal at many a family dinner out. I am from New England after all. There is just something so comforting about a good cup of soup. A rainy weekend on a Lake is as good as an excuse for any for some good soup comfort.
           When I was younger, we spent weekends in New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesauke. Every year, we would have my dad’s mother, Grammy “Meow” and my mother’s mother, Grammy Pat spend a weekend with just my mom and me up there. A girl’s weekend.  This weekend was a vessel for lots of food and shopping, and the occasional burnt-popcorn-setting-the-smoke-alarm-off freak-outs. One summer when I was maybe 13 or 14, it was rainy as all hell on the lake and we couldn‘t walk around the outdoor outlets my grandmothers’ loved so much. Instead, we decided to go for a drive because the Lake is beautiful when it’s kind of rainy. We managed to get about 20 minutes away from our campground when we got hungry. We ended up at this tiny diner at the end of Alton Bay. The waitress offered us their soup of the day, Green Pepper Soup. Um, yum? 4 bowls please. We couldn’t stop talking about it. My mom tried to replicate it a week later, and came pretty close. Its basically stuffed pepper in soup form, something I didn’t put together until maybe last year, because I always called it “green pepper soup.” Since then, this soup has become a staple in my life. It’s on the same level as shepard’s pie in my comfort food library. It’s the soup my mom made and blended into a smoothie when I smashed my front teeth out of my head. It’s the soup I make when I need to remember my mom and when I need a little coziness in my life. Its just comfort food at it’s finest.

            So recently when I stumbled across, and discovered that Gina makes a slimmed down version of my favorite soup, I knew it was happening this week. I usually make something in a big batch that I can freeze and eat leftovers of for a few days in my crock-pot. The leftovers from this soup, I could eat everyday of my life. I made some changes to accommodate my tastes like not using diced tomatoes because I think they’re gross. I can’t deal with tomato chunks. As well as cooking it in the crock-pot and used some tomato juice, like my mom used to.

Green Pepper Soup
Adapted from SkinnyTaste

·      1 lb. ground beef
·      2 chopped green bell peppers
·      1 cup diced onion
·      2 tsp. minced garlic (I use it from a jar. I cheat and I’m ashamed. But I’m over it.)
·      2 - 6 oz. cans tomato juice (technically V8, but we can all use a few more veggies, and it’s what I had on hand)
·      1 3/4  c. tomato sauce
·      2 cups chicken broth
·      1 ½ cups rice
·      salt and pepper

1. Brown ground beef on high heat and season to taste. Drain fat and reduce heat to medium and sauté peppers, onions and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes on low heat.

2. Add beef, peppers, onions and garlic into crock-pot (at this point, I put my crock-pot in the fridge and add the rest of the stuff in the morning.) Then add tomato juice, tomato sauce, and chicken broth. Cook on low 4-6 hours.

3. Add the rice about an hour before it’s done (I used instant brown rice). I ended up adding 2 more cans of the V8 too because I like it a little soupy.

4. Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Monday night I was able to get free tickets for my friend Shannon and myself to an early screening of Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor’s new romantic comedy, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” It’s always fun to go to these screenings (we used to get some passes from the promoter’s at the restaurant I work at because we’re close to a movie theater) because they make sure it’s a full house, and the press is usually there writing reviews for the papers.

This movie was good! I was a little surprised. If I hadn’t gotten the passes, it’s one of those movies that probably would have just slipped under my radar, but I’m so glad we went! Emily Blunt is of course fantastic in everything that she does, and this is no different. She plays a fund manager for a Sheik from Yemen who wants to build his own salmon fishery in the desert of Yemen. Ewan McGregor plays an awkward fish scientist who is assigned to the project. It’s a beautifully done movie, with gorgeous shots of Scotland and “Yemen” (which is actually Morocco in the film). It was a fun, new way to see a relationship progress, rather than the awful romantic comedies that are out these days (I mean you, “I Don’t Know How She Does It”).
The coolest thing about this screening is that Emily Blunt was actually there after the movie to do a Q & A session with a reporter from the Boston Globe. I took some pictures and video, but we were pretty far back in the theater and apparently my iPhone doesn’t zoom well. Who knew.
Emily, adorable as she is, also brought her husband, John Krasinski’s parents with her to the screening. How cute is that.
Anyway, I definitely recommend this movie. It was funny, smart with beautiful scenery and a rather unorthodox storyline. Worth watching – See it!