Friday, October 31, 2008

"h-a-double-l-o-w-double-e-n spells halloween!"

who doesn't love a holiday where the main purpose is to dress up, eat candy, and sculpt pumpkins? 

seriously
maybe the commies...but they don't like anything.

matt & i started a brand new family halloween tradition this week: carving awesome pumpkins while watching "the office." good ol'e family fun. that's the way we roll. and our pumpkins were a-mazing, which sets the bar high for this new tradition. we'll only accept excellence from here on out.
meet mario & jack skellington in their vegetable forms.
and since matt's mario took him 3 and 1/2 hours, instead of going to bed, i made pumpkin muffins with a cream cheese filling, which were both delicious and beautiful! and before you get too impressed with my baking skills, i used canned pumpkin, not the real stuff. either way, you should still be impressed.
we also got to attend our first trunk or treat in ages this week. we bought some good candy, decked out our trunk, and either complimented or criticized the trick or treaters on their candy choices. only excellence!
matt was a geeky professor (his tweed blazer has elbow pads), and i was a smarmy/sexy librarian. we're so hot. 

and then, running with my love of "the office," i made this costume when i got to work today:
three-hole punch nama. no fuss, no muss.

be the kid you are deep down inside today. dress up, eat candy, and bake these delicious muffins. you won't regret it.

pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling
ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cups pecan, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup solid-packed pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

directions
  1. lightly coat one 12-cup standard muffin pan with oil or muffin tins. set aside.
  2. in a small bowl, mix cream cheese, 1 egg, and 3 tablespoons sugar. (You may want to soften the cream cheese in the microwave first to get it to mix easier.) set aside.
  3. in another small bowl, mix 5 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup flour, pecans, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. set aside.
  4. in a large bowl, combine remaining flour (2 cups), remaining sugar (2 cups), salt, baking soda, baking powder, and remaining cinnamon (2 teaspoons). set aside.
  5. in another large bowl (this is where a stand mixer comes into play), lightly beat the remaining eggs (2), pumpkin, oil, and vanilla together until well mixed. now pour in the flour mixture and mix well.
  6. assemble all these bowls: batter, then cream cheese, and finally the pecan mixture. start by pouring batter into each muffin cup, filling it almost half way. then place about 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese mix into each cup. (i was left with extra of this mixture, so feel free to pour more...that can only have delicious consequences.) fill the rest of the cup with the batter. don't be afraid to fill it up the top so that when it rises, it creates a nice muffin top. finally, sprinkle as much of the pecan mix over the top of each muffin as you want.
  7. bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees. check to be sure a toothpick comes out clean before you take them out. that's how you know they're ready to be eaten. they're best when warm!
who knew halloween tasted so good...enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

on irish rap & cooking

as a music lover, i embrace many different styles of music. and it wasn't until recently that i was introduced to my new favorite genre: irish rap.

as matt & i spent many hours in a car driving through ireland on our honeymoon, we decided to listen to irish radio to really immerse ourselves in the culture and to feel connected to the irish men & women out there. and we heard this gem many, many times:

and you thought eminem was insightful? oh no, my friends. the streets say it all. and pay no attention to how the video premise has little to do with the song's message. just remember, everything is just borrowed.

on a fun marriage note, now that i am married, i've become quite the cook. i've heard people say things like this before, that since they've gotten married, they've started to cook more, and now i'm proving it. i cook a lot. and matt cook's too. (i can't leave him out of the picture...we cook a lot.) and one of my new favorite past times is looking for recipes online for delicious dishes that i want to try. so, here's my favorite recipe of the week:

spiced pumpkin waffles

ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 cups pumpkin purée
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

directions:

1. p
reheat a waffle iron. combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl and set aside.
2. whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin puree (i used canned pumpkin, which was just fine.), brown sugar, butter, and vanilla in another large bowl until smooth. while whisking, add the flour mixture and blend until smooth. (one more reason to love our kitchen aid.)
3. generously coat the waffle iron with vegetable oil or a non-stick spray. cook the batter as recommended by the instructions for your waffle iron. (what a fabulous wedding gift!)

we whipped up some fresh cream for the topping, and they were delicious! i was suspicious that matt wouldn't enjoy them because he doesn't care for pumpkin, but he loved them! success! 

enjoy the taste of fall! 

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"i want to ride my bicycle, i want to ride it where i like"

many moons ago when i was a spunky, awkward pre-teen, i had a bicycle. it was blue, had a banana seat, and i remember steamers of some kind on the handles. it rocked my 10-year-old world. and wearing stirrup pants, different colored scrunch socks, and some neon-colored, garish shirt, i'd ride the heck out of that thing around my neighborhood. ah, the early 90s. those were good times.

well, that was then. and now, 15 years later, i hopped onto a bicycle for the first time since those awkward and fashionably awesome days of my youth. and a month later, i've become michael bluth, riding my bicycle to and from work. everyday. 

it's true that you never forget how to ride a bike, but that doesn't mean that i stopped being awkward. the first bike i got was an 18-speed, and it turned out to be too complicated for me. ("speed 11? what's speed 11?! what do i do?!?" craaaash) so we picked up a simple commuter bike on craigslist (also where we picked up most of our furniture...i should blog about that fun adventure someday...) and i've been getting a lot better. still awkward. but better awkward. seriously. i'm like a double hawk. but then, i hit a snag this morning. i hadn't really given too much thought to the fact that, while riding a bicycle, there's no covering on the bike. the elements are free to reign onto you. and that's exactly what happened this morning. it rained. and rained. and rained some more. and since i had no idea that it was suppose to rain, i actually did my hair this morning and wore a white shirt. it was only sprinkling when i left, and i pleaded with the rain gods that they'd hold off until i got to work. and that's when the those darn rain gods conspired against me...it immediately started getting worse, and it rained harder, and harder, and harder until i was biking in a downpour. in a white shirt. 

next on my list of bike-related things to do(besides gaining more confidence in my awkward bike riding skills) is to invest in a pancho.

and maybe upgrade to a stair car.