tengo hot

At the risk of sounding elderly, today  was a scorcher!

Temperatures hovered around 90° all day and while I was after work, Todd sent me this text:

100° inside?  This was getting ridiculous.  You see, we don’t have air conditioning at all.  Our thermostat tricked us, it has a “COOL” option but if you flip it to “COOL” nothing happens.  So far we’ve been getting by with fans but 100°, now that’s hot.

Thankfully we had plans to go out on a little date and have dinner and ice cream so we left as soon as I got home from work. At dinner I ordered the salmon, a big step for me since I’m just starting to eat fish.  When I saw that it came served on a “goat cheese pool”, I was in.

After dinner we walked over to one of our favorite ice cream shops and indulged in cones of Chocolate Monster and Chocolate Chip Extreme.  That ice cream was half melted before we walked out of the shop but man, it was delicious.

When we got home our apartment was so stinking hot.  I looked at the thermometer and it read 99° – not a big improvement since we left.

I decided the only thing to do was go to bed.  Somehow, about 15 seconds after I had changed into sleep clothes, we decided that this was ridiculous and that we had to go get an air conditioner.  A minute after that we were in the car, heading to Target.

We picked out the cheapest air conditioner we could find and brought it home.  We immediately realized that it wouldn’t fit in either of our bedroom windows, too big for one, too small for the other.  Todd decided that 99* was a good reason to try it anyways.

In the end, he was right – it fit in our 20″ window even though it’s 3″ smaller than the minimum width.  We both took turns standing in front of it, soaking up the cool air.

I’m guessing that our bedroom is still about 85° but that is a heck of a lot cooler than it was.

Something tells me that our bedroom will be our new favorite room in the house, forget the living room!

Do you have air conditioning?  If not, how do you keep cool in the summer?

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dinner party blondies

I’m happy to report that our very first dinner party at our new apartment was a success!  I use the word “party” loosely since it was just Todd and I and his parents but, dinner party sounds much more fun than just plain dinner.

I snapped this picture while I was preparing dinner.  I love the colors all together, so pretty!

I made Lemon Fresh Summer Pasta  with grilled chicken and served it will watermelon and bread.  Nothing too fancy but it was just right for a casual meal outside on the deck.

The night was perfect for eating outside, that magical temperature where you don’t feel warm or cool.

For dessert we had the Pink Lemonade Cookies that I baked yesterday plus a second treat that I made last night, White Chocolate Chip Blondies.

I find a lot of recipes online but when I decided to make blondies, I did something crazy: I consulted a cookbook.

The Joy of Cooking was my book of choice and the recipe was great.  Easy peasy and it turned out deliciously.

Blondies from the Joy of Cooking

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grease an 8×8 pan.  Whisk together thoroughly:

          1 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour again, 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons)

          1/4 teaspoon baking powder

          1/4 teaspoon baking soda

          1/8 teaspoon salt

In a large heavy saucepan, melt, then boil, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 4 minutes:

          1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Remove from heat and stir in until well-blended:

          2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

          1/4 cup sugar

Let cool until barely warm.  Stir in until well-combined:

          1 large egg

          1 large egg yolk

          1 tablespoon light corn syrup

          1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir in flour mixture and, if desired (I desired!):

1 cup chopped, toasted pecans, chocolate chips or 2/3 cup shredded coconut (I went with 1 cup of white chocolate chips but you could add in anything: Heath, chocolate chunks, butterscotch chips, peanut butter cups, anything you’d like!)

Scrape into pan.  Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

These blondies are so delicious, even Todd was scarfing them down!  I can’t wait to try them with different mix-ins.

Do you normally get your recipes online or from a cookbook or family recipe?

pink lemonade cookies a la kelly

Tonight we will host our first dinner guests since moving into the apartment, Todd’s parents!  In preparation, I spent a bit of time in the kitchen yesterday baking up some treats for dessert.  First on the docket, Kelly’s Pink Lemonade Cookies.  When I read her post a few weeks ago I knew that these summery cookies would be perfect for this dinner.

This recipe was easy to follow and only uses 6 ingredients – now that’s my kind of cookie!  If you’d like to try these yummy cookies, the recipe can be found on Laughter, Strength, and Food.

I followed Kelly’s recipe exactly except that I substituted in whole wheat flour because that’s all we have right now.  By the way, if you’re going to substitute in whole wheat for all-purpose flour, you can’t do a cup to cup equivalent.  The easiest conversion I’ve found is this: if the recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose you should use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour.  Make sense?  I’ve used this conversion 3 or 4 times and it’s worked great.

Now back to the cookies.  They came out of the oven like this:

And after dressing them up a bit, they looked like this:

I happened to have some pink sugar sprinkles left from a Valentine’s long, long ago and they were the perfect thing to top the cookies with.  Don’t they remind you of candy buttons?

Even those these cookies are for dinner tonight I tried a few with a big glass of pink lemonade and they were so good and refreshing, the perfect summer cookie.

I was going to post about my other baking adventure but this post is getting lengthy so it will have to wait until later on.

Do you have any favorite summertime baked goods?

Did you bake anything tasty this weekend?

spooning

Since yesterday my allergies seem to have been really acting up.  I claimed that I must be allergic to work.  I still think that’s true but they’ve been so severe and a sore throat and chills joined the mix today so I’m not sure this is just allergies.  Because I wasn’t feeling the best I came right home after work, cancelled my spot at yoga class and took a nap while Todd went to go pick up a pizza.

We enjoyed the delicious pizza from Big Bob’s at our new patio table and the combo of the sun and pizza definitely made me feel a little better – if nothing else, morale improved.  A few hours later Todd was craving ice cream.  I always want ice cream and, since Todd doesn’t have a sweet tooth like I do, jumped at the chance to go get ice cream even though I was considering an 8:00 bedtime.

We decided to walk to a local store, Martha’s Vineyard, to pick up a pint of ice cream.  We brought spoons with us so we could eat our ice cream on the way home.  I noticed my reflection in the spoon so we had a mini spoon photoshoot.

When we got to Martha’s Vineyard we ran into a couple of friends including my former roommate, Erin.  She recently got a new puppy and I got to meet her for the first time.

That’s my “I want one, can we get one please???” face.

I’ve been having major puppy lust lately but, Todd’s not that into it plus our lease doesn’t allow dogs and we’re locked in here for 14 more months.  Maybe by August 2012 Todd will be ready for one.

We decided on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked Fro-Yo and got to work on it as soon as we started walking home.  It’s one of my favorite flavors and the fact that it comes in less-guilt frozen yogurt form is a major bonus.

As you can see, we enjoyed it.  And I’m sure it’s helping to clear up my stuffy nose.  Ice cream’s a cure-all, right?

Speaking of ice cream.  Remember those cookies and cream brownies that I made the other day?  On Monday night I got my wish and ate one warm with ice cream and hot fudge.

Yup, that was the jam.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?


 

kitchenaid debut + brownies from scratch

You may remember that I was given a KitchenAid stand mixer as a wedding shower gift.  It has been sitting proudly on a shelf since we moved into our apartment, waiting to be used.  On Friday, I knew that it could wait no longer.  Since this was the KitchenAid’s inaugural use I wanted to make something delicious, classic and worthy of the mixer.  I had never made brownies from scratch before and it seemed like the thing to do.  After skimming through several blogs and searching for homemade brownie recipes between tasks at work, I settled on Jessica’s Cookies and Cream Brownies.  The recipe is simple, approachable and involves Oreo cookies – a sure winner.  Plus, I’ve had her Cookies and Cream Cupcakes and those were quite good.

Todd got to work crushing the Oreos (Double Stuff – we don’t mess around), his favorite kitchen task, while I measured out the other ingredients.

The mixer worked wonderfully and I soon had a lovely, smooth brownie batter ready to bake into brownies.

In making these, I also debuted another new baking tool, my Martha Stewart Brownie Pan.  It slices your brownies for you as they cook!  I was worried that it might make brownies that were all edges but the middle brownies came out great, like freshly sliced brownies.  I’m definitely not ever using another pan to make brownies again.

I didn’t make the frosting for the brownies but we did try some with store-bought  vanilla frosting.  These brownies are delicious and cakey but fudge-like at the same time.  It was so easy to make them from scratch – I’ll definitely be using less boxed mixes in the future.

These brownies are screaming to be served with ice cream and hot fudge.  I’ll let you know if I can make that happen over the weekend.

The recipe for these brownies can be found here.  I followed it almost exactly, using 3 squares baking chocolate and substituing whole wheat flour for regular flour.  Again, it was really easy.  If you feel intimidated at the thought of making brownies from scratch, don’t!

Also, I don’t need to say it but the KitchenAid is amazing and I’m so glad I have one.  Many more batches of cookies, brownies and bread to come.

Have you ever made brownies from scratch?

What’s your favorite addition to brownies?  Nuts, chocolate chunks, frosting, toffee?

 

 

 

hmp: lemon fresh summer pasta

This morning I woke up bright and early to make it to a 6:00 am yoga class.  For once I didn’t hit snooze (well, maybe once or twice) and actually got up to go to the class.  It was so nice to have my workout done by 7:00 am and I even squeezed in a little nap before getting ready for work.

Since my workout was done before work, I got to come right home and had plenty of time to make a real dinner.  I decided to make a light pasta dish which I’m calling Lemon Fresh Summer Pasta.  I was inspired by and almost completely followed/referred to a recipe for Sweet Corn Pasta from Baked Bree.

Without further ado, here’s the adapted recipe for this delicious, light, fresh summer pasta:

Lemon Fresh Summer Pasta

6 oz. (1/2 bag) lemon chive fettucine

2 ears of fresh corn

2 cloves garlic

1 T. + 1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup chopped of fresh basil, parsley and oregano blend

Juice of one lemon

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

A block of Parmesan cheese

Soak corn in water then grill the ears in their husks later exposing them to slightly char the kernels.

While the corn cooks, heat 1 T. olive oil in a pan then add garlic, cooking and turning it until golden brown.  Cook pasta.

Remove kernels from the cobs and place them in a medium size bowl.  Add remaining olive oil, herbs, lemon juice and cooked garlic.  Zest lemon over the mixture and then stir to combine all ingredients.

When pasta is cooked, place in serving bowl.  Top with olive oil/corn mixture.  Toss all ingredients together and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

We had our pasta with chicken breasts for a kick of protein and ciabatta bread and it was so good.  Neither of us felt overly full like we sometimes do when we have pasta and the lemon just gives it such a refreshing taste.  The lemon chive pasta was really good but if you can’t find it, you can use any long noodle or really any pasta you like.

This meal will definitely be making another appearance on our table.

As a bonus, it was the first time I used our new pasta pot for two, one of our serving bowls, our brand new box grater and our mini prep bowls.  New tools making cooking even more fun!

I’m really going to try to do more morning workouts.  This summer I’ll be working earlier, think 7:00am so it will be a good transition into that.  The mornings won’t feel so early if I’m used to getting up anyways, right?

Do you workout in the morning?

How do you lighten up pasta (or other dishes) for summer?

extended family secrets – she’s a sourpuss

After Scott’s graduation and brunch on Saturday we spent the afternoon at Joel and Kim’s house relaxing and enjoying the sun.  I read for awhile then joined Todd, Scott and Todd’s dad in a game of bags.

It was a close game but Todd and I pulled through and won.  Since we didn’t want to gloat we claimed the win for Team Neckers which included all present.

Eventually the afternoon led into the evening and we got hungry again.

Thankfully Kim had run into a meat salesman the day before we arrived and was swindled into buying a fridge-full of meat.  That meant a celebratory barbecue for us!  We had steaks, asparagus, the best (and only) potato salad I’ve ever eaten and caprese salad.

It was a delicious, robust meal.  Of course a great meal should be followed up with a great dessert and this meal was no exception.  Kim introduced us to her grandma’s specialty which she calls Sourpuss.

Sour Puss begins like this…

With a few turns of your spoon the separate piles of blueberries, sour cream and brown sugar turn into a sweet, creamy dessert.

I was skeptical but Kim made me a believer – Sourpuss is delicious!  If you need a quick, easy (and interactive!) dessert, this is a great option.

I did a Google search for “sour puss dessert” and found nothing but when I searched “blueberries, sour cream, brown sugar dessert” and got one result.  Apparently Sourpuss is known to the wide world as “Blueberries with Brown Sugar Cream“.  I say that’s a lame name and I’m sticking with calling it Sourpuss.

A few glasses of wine and rounds of Apples to Apples later we were all ready to crawl into bed.  So much fun can be exhausting!  The next day Todd and I headed back home.  It was a whirlwind trip but well worth the quick turnaround.

What desserts are staples at your family get-togethers?