Saturday, October 29, 2011

Christina's Birthday Dinner Party!

First, I would like to apologize for my entire lack of food photos in this post. I'm an out of shape, rusty blogger. Once things started happening I completely forgot about my camera on the side table until long after my guests left.

October 23rd was my 27th birthday. My bosses Jeffrey and Linda had been trying to get up with me for weeks about going out to dinner, them cooking dinner, coming here for dinner, etc. Eventually when we had a plan in place, they had both had dental work so weren't much in the mood for chewing.

(recycled photo)

My butternut squash soup would do the trick perfectly for my birthday dinner party!

I used our rental home's nice dinnerware to make the evening feel more special. I find if you set the table ahead of time and make sure everything is at the ready it makes your guests feel special and the evening runs smoother. The dinner centerpiece was a huge, fresh salad I cut everything by hand for. Lots of the toppings were in small bowls so guests could customize the toppings based on their preferences.

As Johnny pointed out, the orange soup would look great served in these beautiful bowls! With the dinnerware being so busy, I chose to omit dinner decorations, and let the bold plates and bowls speak for themselves!

Appetizers were fresh shrimp cocktail my dad brought, olives, pickles, and bread with a vegetable tapenade. (<--Spell check wants me to change that to tapeworm -- ewwww!)

Dinner started with a huge salad. I used the seeds from the butternut squash as a crunchy topping to connect the courses.

For the seeds I simply tossed them with:

vegetable oil
garlic powder

And baked at 350° for about 30 minutes, stirring them a few times to make sure they were evenly toasty and nobody stuck together.

Dessert was a delicious home made key lime pie my boss Jeffrey made from scratch! That's real whipped cream with key lime zest in it! So good!

Disclosure: There are paid links included in this post. Please note, it really was my birthday, and the photos and words are all genuine Christina, unaffected by this opportunity. Just simply a chance to earn a little cash for the upcoming wedding!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Plotting my Return

Over the past few months I've neglected this little blog of mine.

However, my stats have been unaffected.

I guess random Googlers fuel my traffic, not "regulars." So now I don't feel as guilty about letting you guys down since you are all buttheads who don't recognize my awesomeness.

Just to keep you up to date:

We moved out of the tiny apartment into a 4 bedroom house on the beach.

House hunting was not progressing and we thought we'd take this opportunity to rent a bigger house, a few steps from the ocean. The off-season prices are amazing and when will we ever have a chance to live in a sandy oasis again?

This means we have a full kitchen again. I haven't unpacked everything yet, though. I need to stock up on some pantry staples and possibly get some stuff out of storage. I'm hoping this will mark my return to blogging because I miss it, even if you don't miss me (which, you should!).

Edited to add: If you want to come visit, send me an e-mail. Seriously! There are 3 extra rooms!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lemon Bars

My dad is a sucker for all things lemon. The other night he pulled out a Company's Coming "Most Loved Treats" cookbook, turned to lemon bars and let me know I should make them, if I had the time.

The crust called for 2 sticks of butter, so I got to googling, trying to find some waist-friendly alternatives.

I used David Lebovitz's crust, because it reduced the sugar and butter:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla, stirring until well-mixed. Spread out into a 7" x 11" pan. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, until browned. Remove and let cool while you make the filling.

For the filling, I adjusted the cookbook's recipe to include less sugar:

4 eggs
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp peel (I didn't have any, so I omitted)
1 1/4 cup sugar (it called for 2!!)
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
confectioner's sugar, optional

Whisk the eggs until frothy. Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, and peel if using, mixing until incorporated. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour into the cooled crust. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle the top with confectioner's sugar if desired.

Cut into bars and enjoy!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weekend Pumpkin Pancakes

I grabbed this at a gift shop while Johnny and I were in Sleepy Hollow, NY last weekend. It was all decorated for fall and Halloween, so really I couldn't resist. Plus, you could smell the spices through the bag, tempting you to take it home and make them. I love how it says "best weekend pancakes" because weekend pancakes always seem to taste better than weekday pancakes. (I think so at least.)

It was nothing crazy. I probably could have found a recipe to make at home. But hey, it's convenient and cute. I made it for dinner because I love breakfast for dinner!

The mix was really thick. Usually when I make Bisquick pancakes they're runny and pour easily. This was super thick like a cake batter.

I ran over to my parents' house and stole borrowed their griddle. We don't have much in the pots and pans department so it just seemed easiest. I cooked a package of little sausages and about a dozen of these fluffy, cakey, pumpkin spice pancakes. The scent was ahhhmazing. I told Johnny that our upstairs neighbor probably wanted to kill us from the smells wafting up into his apartment.

I ate 3 pancakes and 4 5 of the little sausages. I've been trying to behave myself for the wedding. I'm tracking my exercise on Daily Mile and have swapped out a meal a day for SlimFast shakes. The two month mark is coming up quick!!