A weekend of deliciousness

One of my favorite parts of being a tour guide for friends when they visit Chicago is being able to eat at my favorite places. This weekend, one of my good friends who currently lives in Florida came to visit Chi-town. The downside? Spring has not made the strong push that I would have liked. The upside? While we weren’t able to do a lot of “outside stuff” because it was so chilly we were able to get to a lot of restaurants and eat some yumminess.
Our weekend of food:

Thursday – Ryan made a pot roast. Homemade and yummy.

Friday – While Jamie was visiting another friend, I ordered my favorite pizza for myself. Yay for the margherita pizza at Apart Pizza Company.

Saturday – Lunch at the Grafton.  Burgers + curry chips = a perfect lunch.  Dinner and drinks at Tiny Lounge.

Sunday – Dinner at Purple Pig.  This worked out nicely as Purple Pig is one of my fave places to eat in the entire city.

Monday – Lunch at Hot Doug’s.  Snack at Selmarie.  Dinner at Potbelly.  This was the day of the carb.

Tuesday – Breakfast at Angel Food Bakery.  A coconut cupcake is a perfect breakfast food.

When you are the tour guide, what are the places that you know that you have to take people to?

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When The World Gives You Too Much Frosting….

When the world gives you too much frosting, you should make sandwiches.

Yes.

Sandwiches.

Frosting sandwiches were one of my favorite parts of making cookies when I was younger.  Mom would always have extra frosting after all of the cookies were frosted.  Sure, you could just grab a spoon and dive in.  But that’s just kind of lazy.  So, most times, mom would grab some saltine crackers and make sandwiches.

After I took my cake decorating classes, I had three containers of frosting left in the fridge.  I am not really in a hurry to do any cake decorating any time soon, so it looks like I’ll be making sandwiches fairly frequently.

Grab some frosting....

Grab some crackers....

Frosting + crackers = delicious

Delicious. delicious. delicious.

An Experiment with Leftovers

So, I don’t really cook. And when I do, I follow the recipe exactly. I’ve had too many cooking experimentation disasters to start trying to be fancy. That’s why I like baking so much. You can experiment a little bit but you can’t mess with the chemistry of baking so you had better stick with the recipe for the most part.
However, for some reason, last week I had the patience and daring to do a little experimentation with some leftovers. In our CSA delivery from last week, we had a lot of really good stuff including two giant portabella mushrooms, a huge loaf of ciabatta bread, and some parsley. On Wednesday, I whipped up a pasta sauce with the mushrooms, grabbed some spices from the cupboard, and added them all to a can of pasta sauce. I kept the mushrooms in fairly large chunks so that the sauce would be pretty meaty. The sauce turned out pretty nicely.

As a rule, I do like to use canned pasta sauce but I always add my own extras (veggies, meat, and/or herbs). And as a rule, I always stand right by the stove when making pasta. However, this time, I got a bit distracted. The sauce was fine by the linguine was overcooked and mushy. Overcooked pasta? So gross.

After I finished my dinner of tasty sauce and mushy pasta, I still had a lot of extra sauce. One of the great things about our CSA is that they send a list of possible recipes for the foods included in the box. One of them said to saute the mushrooms, add some tomatoes and throw them on top of slices of ciabatta and throw them in the oven. This sounded like something that I could do.

For Thursday’s dinner, I sliced up some of the ciabatta and tossed them on a baking sheet. I then drizzled a little bit of olive oil on top. (If I had had more time and wasn’t as incredibly hungry as I was, I would’ve toasted the slices first.) I then spooned the leftover pasta sauce on top.

Ryan finely chopped some garlic for me and I added that to the top of the mushroom sauce. Then, I covered the sauce and garlic with mozzarella cheese. Please note, when I say that I covered the sauce I mean just that. My goal was to not be able to actually see what was under the cheese. Then the slices were ready for the oven. Once the cheese was melted, I topped each slice with some of the parsley that we got on Wednesday.

The result? These were really really good. I was a bit worried that the bread was going to be too mushy since the slices hadn’t been toasted, but they were just fine.

A Scarf for Ryan – Update #7

Almost finished! It’s almost finished! I’m thinking that I only  need to add a couple more inches to the scarf and it’ll finally (finally!!!!) be done.  And since this is Illinois, the weather might actually still get cold enough for Ryan to use it this winter.

Almost done....

This pattern is easy and fun.

Buddy is excited, too!

But, she's not as helpful as she thinks she is.

In praise of the Girl Scout Cookie

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. It’s Girl Scout cookie time again.  I always love this time of year.  It’s the perfect time in between Christmas and Easter to get some delicious snacks.

This year, I discovered that there is an app that you can download that lets you find where Girl Scouts are selling their cookies.  What?! No, I’m completely serious.  Take a look! This definitely made my day when I learned about this app.  You can put in a zip code or city and it will tell you the location where you can find Girl Scouts selling cookies!  Woo-hoo!

So, I tracked down the Scouts and bought three boxes of Samoas (my absolutely favorite), one box of Tagalongs (my second all-time favorite) and one box of Do-Si-Dos (eh, they’re ok).  I wanted a box of Thin Mints but they had just sold their last box when I got to the selling point outside of the Jewel grocery store.

I loved Scouting.  It played a large part in my childhood.  I would go to Girl Scout camp every summer.  The week at Camp Widjiwagan was one of my favorite weeks during the entire summer.  Our troop would have tons of different outings throughout the year.  And since no other parent wanted to do it, my mom was our troop leader for quite a long time.  Cookie time was not as much fun when half of your house was filled to the ceiling with boxes and boxes of cookies.

As much as I love cookies, and I loooooove Girl Scout cookies, I do have some problem dealing with the fact that my all-time fave cookie has less in the box than any other type.  But, I guess that I can deal with that.  I’ve managed this long.

One of my favorite bloggers recently came up with a recipe for homemade Girl Scout cookies.  She made Tagalongs and Samoas.   These recipes do look quite tasty but I think that the most important sentence in the posts is when CakeSpy says to buy cookies from a Girl Scout and then make your own cookies.  (In the Tagalongs post.)

Because while the cookies are quite tasty, the important thing is that you might be helping some girl to go to an all-day campfire workshop where she gets to learn different ways to build campfires and what ones work best for what kind of food.

And that is a really really fun way to spend the day.

Remember when I said that I bought three boxes of Samoas? Yea. Already down to two.

Cats have the weirdest habits

Several months ago,  Ryan and I realized that the top of Buddy’s head was frequently wet.  Really wet.  Soaking wet.  We soon realized that she was drinking water out of the bathtub faucet.  I was a bit worried at first.  Did she not have water in the bowl?  Was the bowl not clean?

Yes, she had water in the bowl.  Yes, the bowl was quite clean.

Then I learned that cats still retain a lot of their natural instincts.  Finding fresh, running water was an instinct that a lot of cats still have.  So, no need to worry.

For quite some time,  Buddy would run quickly out of the bathroom if she had been in the bathtub and could hear your footsteps.

Now, however, she almost seems proud of her ability to find running water.

But, be careful if you want to pet her.  Her head is probably soaking wet.

Cake Decorating Class – Session #4 – Final Class

So, my class was usually on Mondays but my instructor had to reschedule for Tuesday. That should’ve been fine except that I waited until Monday night to 1) bake the cake 2) make the frosting 3) fill the cake 4) frost the cake. Not a very good idea.

This was actually a lot more stressful than cake should be. I got a mix from Betty Crocker and I’m really thankful that I did. Making a cake from scratch would not have fit into my Monday night.

For this cake, I decided to fill it with fresh strawberries.

Strawberries!

Delicious, completely out-of-season strawberries!

Good idea, right? I thought so until I started actually frosting the cake and the strawberries were literally jumping out of the cake. And I did exactly what I was supposed to do. As you can see in the pic below, I put a double border on the outside of the cake to hold the fruit in. That border did not hold.

Stupid border.

Then, I realized that this was the most crumby cake that I’ve ever made. Seriously. Crumbs were everywhere. I tried to clear them off but that didn’t actually work. There are tons of crumbs in my icing. Oh well. This final cake isn’t actually for a grade. I reminded myself of that for several hours on Monday.

Stupid crumby cake....

I decided on my final decor for the cake while I was baking it.  There are two cakes in the lesson plan book that I decided to combine.  Flowers.  Polka-dots.  What’s not to love, right?  I also wanted to use the hot pink color that I bought after my first class and perhaps use up some of my icing from last week’s class.  So, I also brought in my light pink, green and white from last week.

Once we finished learning lettering and a new flower, it was time to get started on our cakes.  As we were working throughout the class, I decided to just use one color – hot pink.  And this pink was definitely hot pink.  Under the fluorescent lights of the classroom, I swear this cake looked like it could glow in the dark.  I added the new rose that we had learned earlier that night to the cake.  I then added dots for my borders.  As a final step, I added in some dots on the sides.  (This also helped to cover up imperfections.)

Cake!

I’ve got to say, this is a great cake!  It really turned out nicely.

Beautiful cake!

As with the rest of my classes, I brought my project to work the next day.  Everyone that I talked to said that they absolutely loved it.

My favorite quote for the day?  “When I heard that this was your last class, that was the saddest thing I heard all day.”