Fashionably Late

DSC_6112 Here I am, a little late to the party but you don’t even mind because I made a cute thing and dropped it off without dirtying your carpet or anything. I had this plan. Or rather an INSPIRATION to make meal planning cute, and fun, and less mommy-Pinterest-y. And I’m totally cool with mommies and Pinterest, but I’m not a mommy and I guess I’m still not TOTALLY down with Pinterest. I’ve been itching to create more graphic design-y stuff and noticed that I was naturally drawing in this made up style that I don’t feel mega self-conscious about. I’ve also been focussing a lot on how I cook and eat. So, here comes this plan. I don’t wanna babble on about it too long because I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing lately and I just want to put it out there. I’m hoping to stay on top of making one of these monthly produce charts (at the beginning of the month, not the middle, heh) that you (and I) can print out and be guided by throughout the month. I’m trying to be more seasonally conscious, but it can be a bit overwhelming, can’t it? So, here is a condensed list of stuff that’s in season, but not EVERYTHING that’s in season. I’ll expand on all of this soon, but I tend to enjoy meal planning a little more when I have a few ingredients to focus on each week. I hope this will end up being helpful to others too and that the posts I’m planning around it will be fun for me and you. Because we don’t have to think of eating in terms of New Year’s Resolutions anymore – it’s March! So let’s just try to eat well and not be burnt out about it all the time! Yeah! MarchProduceAnd P.S. Please feel free to print this out for your own fridge! I didn’t even stamp my name all over it! (Is that a thing I should do? hmmm)

Sloppy Bao – Vietnamese Sloppy Joe

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It’s a little hard for me to look at these pictures now because I’ve been toying with vegetarianism the past week and this very meaty sandwiches is seriously one of the best I’ve ever made. I know, it’s a sloppy joe. Not very classy. But this one is so unique, so flavorful, and pretty to look at. It’s really just as easy as a regular sloppy joe but with a few asian condiments mixed in like fish sauce and red-curry paste. The meat mixture is really good, but I think it’s the toppings that make it shine. The recipe I used recommends Thai basil, jalapeños and mangos, but notes that Granny Smith apples could be used too. I trust Martha of course, but I thought the green apples looked and tasted perfect. I have a weird time imagining it with mangos, but if you try it please let me know! I went with lots of basil, fanned out apples, and a sprinkle of green onions for mine. I also subbed chili garlic sauce instead of the curry paste because that’s what I had and it was great too! It seems like this recipe is pretty flexible, which I love and would love to hear any of your ideas for ways to tweak it. All I can say is that you really should try this. I’ve never had anything quite like it before and it was a wonderfully quick and smile inducing weekday meal.

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Turkey Avocado Egg Rolls – CPK Copycat

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Up until a few weeks ago, it had been a really long time since I had eaten at a California Pizza Kitchen. We had some family in town, which meant a girls only shopping trip was in order! We were probably 20 minutes into the outing when lunch became the next inevitable step. When your shopping has barely begun and the food court kinda sucks you can always count on a CPK to be attached to the mall somewhere. And side note: I have mentioned my love for food courts before on this blog, so when you hear me call one disappointing enough for me to ditch it, you know it’s bad. I think my love for food courts has diminished significantly since moving back to Colorado from Boston though. Boston food courts were the bomb! Anyway, this trip to CPK was the first time I didn’t get a pizza and boy was I pleasantly surprised (I replicated my salad too – coming soon!). My mom had the turkey avocado egg rolls for her meal and was nice enough to share because they were so good that everyone needed to experience it. I decided right away to try these at home even though I felt pretty unsure about how well I would be able to replicate the presentation. Really, the most challenging thing was figuring out how to roll them up properly, but after a quick google session I had it down. This turned into a bit of a hybrid recipe where I used this as a guide for proportions and for folding the wrappers, but I did a bit of a different sauce and fried them because, duh. You could of course bake them though! For my sauce I actually used one of those packets of ranch powder in a spicy flavor because for a reason unknown even to me, I hate buying bottles of ranch dressing. If I absolutely need it for something I’d prefer a one-use option. These egg rolls are such an awesome party food/appetizer that tasted even better than the original, in my opinion. They are similar to the guacamole wontons that I made a while back, but with all of the salad like fillings, it could be substantial enough for a full meal if you’d like (I did!).

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A Taste of Foods to Come

DSC_5059[Sloppy Bao – Vietnamese inspired sloppy joe]

I always get mega excited when I try a recipe that is so delicious that it’s worth repeating. I have found a lot of those lately, which is awesome, but despite my enthusiastic texts to my mom and sister immediately following the consumption of a repeatable dish, I never actually repeat it. No matter how good, I am not a recipe repeater. I used to be pretty against outfit repeating. I’m sure this was influenced in some way by the Lizzie Mcguire Movie (anyone?). These days though, I am ALL for outfit repeating. I mean, some weeks I catch myself repeating basically the same outfit every day with just a minor tweak or two…dark skinny jeans, army green utility jacket, white or grey t-shirt, navy Keds = big YES for me.  I of course still love changing my outfits up every so often, but when it comes to cooking dinner I love variety and experimentation, which evidently translates to no repeats. Ever. This isn’t even something I realized until just recently because I used to have a tiny rotation of go-to dishes. No idea what to make and don’t want to go to the store? Ok, time to make some carbonara. Those go-to’s have been neglected as of late and for the moment, I’m totally cool with that. Here are my top 10 recent repeatable dishes that I probably will never repeat but would totally be happy to eat again (Whoa). Most surprising to me is how many salads are on this very official list! I’ll be posting about each of this in more detail very soon. Let me know if any of these look particularly interesting to you!

DSC_5089[Grilled Steak and Onion Salad] DSC_5102               [Just one amazing burger]DSC_5222      [Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Radish]DSC_5270       [Birthday Macarons]DSC_5271               [My pride and joy – homemade croissants] DSC_5311         [Shaved Brussel Sprouts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette – OMG]  DSC_5328         [Grilled Peach Pizza]DSC_5362         [Turkey Avocado Egg Rolls – Inspired by a lady lunch at CPK]DSC_5369 [Caramelized Peach Salad – also inspired by said shopping day lady lunch]DSC_5381            [Tuna and White Bean Salad]

Colorado Cocktail Taste Test

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Last night after a girly day of shopping, grilled cheese, crafts, and pizza (we are the classiest of girls) we had an impromptu Colorado cocktail taste test hosted by dad (of ‘Dad’s Corner‘ fame). He’s been practicing his bar tending skills over the past few months, so when my sister saw 5280’s poll for the official Colorado state cocktail, she knew he would be game to try at least one. Of course, Dad can’t say no to a challenge so he concocted our own in-home, four person contest between all three. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t expecting to end my night this way, which means that I did not have my regular camera to take lovely pictures! We did our best though. We had a sample size of each drink and picked our own winner/s. Check out our thoughts on all three drinks below! Spoiler alert: YUM.

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Kevin Burke’s “The 4th Pin”bitters, Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur, Whiskey, orange peel.

Dad: offered the most traditional western drink…like when Colorado was an old cow town.

Mom: liked the complex herbal flavors

KT: definitely strong but was pretty good. I liked that I could taste the bitters towards the bottom.

Bepcity: really nice layering of flavors. I don’t always do well with strong drinks, but I really enjoyed this one.

20140209-115852.jpgAlexandra Parks’ “Central Slope Sour”: Lemon juice, honey, Three Pins Herbal Liqueur, Breckenridge Bourbon, Avery IPA

Dad: Becky and her man hands squeezed too much lemon…but still really good.

Mom: really liked the honey and lemon! Would be great on a hot summer day.

KT: liked it best because of the tart lemon juice! It was definitely sour! But again, the herbal liquor added something unique.

Bepcity: loved it! I just felt happy drinking this. The perfect, summery glass of lemonade with a kick.

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Sean Kenyon’s “The Centennial Smash”: Palisade peach, mint, Colorado honey, bourbon, Three Pins Alpine Herb Liqueur

Dad: I think I added too much bourbon…this one needs a second chance.

Mom: thought this would be my favorite, but it was my least…wonder if it would be better when palisade peaches are in season to get more fresh peach taste.

KT: I agree with mom. Felt very summery.

Bepcity: I liked the subtle peach and mint flavor, but agree we should give it another shot.

THE VERDICT

All great contenders for a Colorado cocktail! The girls all agreed that the Central Slope Sour was our favorite while Dad picked The 4th Pin as his favorite. We all expected to like the Centennial Smash best, but it was everyone’s least favorite – possibly due to our own lack of in season peaches. I think we will definitely be trying it again this summer! All three used Leopold & Bros Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur, which is really cool stuff. Highly recommend you take a look at 5280’s post, which has videos of each bartender making their entry. Even if you’re not in Colorado, it was fun to have a little tasting party of these tasty drinks that will get you pumped for summer! I love you, Colorado!

My First Love – Mac & Cheese

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Oh, goodness. I feel 50% sheepish and 50% totally psyched to be writing this post. Yeah, it’s been an unreasonably long time and I’ve been dreading writing one of those I’m back/excuses, excuses posts that I don’t particularly enjoy reading myself, but here we are. I’ve thought about you a whole lot over the last few months. I thought of you when I went on a trip to LA, while I moved from the east back to the west, while I made (and am still making) a ridiculous amount of felt Christmas crafts. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said ‘yeah, hopefully I’ll blog that at some point’ or the number of ‘to post’ folders I have neatly organized on my laptop (at least I have the organized thing going for me!). If you are interested in the list of excuses, all I can say is: finals, moving, job hunting, working, more job hunting, travel, family and so much family (it’s been awesome being back home again!). Something has definitely been missing from my life though, and I’m feeling really giddy writing this! Like, I actually got butterflies uploading these photos…eye-rolling at myself.

Speaking of butterflies, I finally made myself sit down and blog because I’ve been having a bit of a dilemma/doubt fest regarding my first love – mac & cheese. It’s just been so long since I’ve had really, really good mac & cheese and it’s been extremely disappointing. Of course, this is really all my own fault because I haven’t made it from scratch since these pictures were taken…well back when it was still sunny at dinnertime. I have to admit that boxed macaroni is a definite guilty pleasure of mine. Every time I buy a box I shove it to the bottom of my basket and hope that there’s a self-checkout. I know I’ve mentioned that my brother is my partner in novelty food tasting crime and we’ve been pretty into tasting all the weird macaroni flavors lately. None of them have been very good and I started to wonder if I had lost my taste for this stuff. After all, I used to absolutely hate it as a child. Yep, my tastes have become more childlike over the years. Paul quickly pointed out to me that I probably just need to have some homemade again. Ding, ding. That must be it. And so, this post is here to serve as inspiration for myself and any of you stuck in an unfortunate mac & cheese rut. I am remembering how wonderful and beautiful this recipe was and I think mac & cheese and I might be able to forego couples counseling. Phew. Thank you gruyere, thank you bacon, and thank YOU, for reading this and for not judging me too harshly😉

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Philly Cheese Steak Night

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My homemade baguettes strike again! Just like the caprese sandwiches, I wanted to make something fairly simple so that we could really enjoy the fresh bread. I also just love how cool I feel slinging my spatula around while grilling the meat and veggies. Maybe I should get a job at a food court?? That would actually be pretty sweet, but I think I would tire of smelling like onions and shopping mall every day…I used the first recipe that came up in a google search for a guide and then kind of did my own thing. I didn’t melt the provolone into a sauce, but I’m sure that would be amazing and I totally forgot that I bought mushrooms to add! I hate when that happens. I think it turned out for the best though since the bread is what made this particular sandwich extra special. Next time I gotta try the melty cheese sauce!

PS this is my 101st post! How cool is that?! I totally missed it when I posted number 100!

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