Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pasta Rustica

Most of the time I dictate the menu around the Wilde household.  That's why you see a lot of chicken, plenty of salads and lots of vegetables.  Apparently, man cannot live on healthy food alone!  At least, this is what boyfriend told me this weekend.  When looking through cookbooks, planning my grocery list, I asked what he would like for dinner this week.  He replied "pasta."

Okay, there are lots of pasta options.  My next question was "Hearty or light?"  "Hearty" was the request.  Getting closer, one more question "full of vegetables or cheese?"  Obviously the answer was "cheese."  He's a dude and dudes like cheese.  With those simple guidelines I decided on a hearty, baked pasta dish. 

There were a few things that I decided on for this meal.  The protein is not beef, it's chicken sausage.  There are onions in the sauce, because you can't have a pasta sauce without onions.  Finally, the pasta was served with whole grain garlic bread.

So, with boyfriends suggestions and my finessing, we came out with one delicious meal.  It was even ready in just 30 minutes, which is good, because my train was late getting me home and I was tired!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Bakers : FRESH, FLUFFY, FRENCH!

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I don't know why these little beauties weren't on my Culinary Goals list.  I love croissants!  While in France last year I ate them every morning for breakfast with my chocolate chaud!  Perhaps I realized that if I knew how to make them, or was successful at making them, that I would be in trouble. 

The problem being, if twelve light and fluffy croissants come out of the oven and there are only two people around to eat them, how many croissants does each person eat?  The inevitable answer is, too many!  While the croissants are cooking in the oven, the house begins to smell warm and delicious.  A sweet, yeasty fragrance starts to tempt you into the kitchen.  You peek into the oven and see those crispy, golden layers and can't wait until the timer rings.

This is exactly how it played out the morning that I made these little darlings.  I woke up at 6:00 to give the dough the final few turns and went back to bed for another two hours.  Around 8:00, I got out of bed to cut and shape the croissants.  They spent a little time rising and warming up, starting to fill the kitchen with their sweet smell.  After a quick egg wash and short time in the oven I was ready to scarf down a few of these French treats.  I held myself back and only ate two, then took the rest to work the next day to avoid any temptation!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pomegranate Ice Cream

It happened.  Yesterday morning it finally happened.  You don't know what?  It's absolutely terrible!  I walked outside yesterday morning, and it was dark.  DARK!  The sun was not awake yet, and I was going to work!  Arrrgghhhh!  DARK!

I was okay with waking up at 5:30 in the morning and heading out on the 6:00 train when it was sunny and warm.  I knew that this day was coming though, with the sun rising slower and slower in the morning.  The mornings have been getting cooler and that's okay.  I bought a really cute, asymmetric zippered, sweater.  The fall rains have been coming and I'm cool with that too.  I got my hair cut and it curls really nicely in the humid air.

But the sun coming up after I leave the house?  That is where I draw the line!  Come back sun!  I miss your bright shiny face in the morning, it keeps me from falling asleep on the train...  It's going to be a loooooong winter.  Can't wait until I leave work at night and it's dark out, that will be fun too.  Maybe I should move to Florida?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto

Each morning I transfer from the New Jersey trains to the Long Island railroad. While I've described my evenin transfer as an Olympic event of toddler-jumping and granny-dodging, my morning commute is much more relaxed. In fact, I have thirty minutes between my morning trains. There are a few options open to me for filling this time and I've explored them all.

In my first few weeks of commuting I stayed in Penn stationand waited for my LIRR train. I brought books to read and stood around in the main corridor reading. One morning I decided to sit in the LIRR waiting area and read and that was the last morning I stayed in Penn Station. A quick note for all, the waiting area is where the really chatty and crazy people like to hang out. I'm not big on conversation that early in the morning.

Option two is to go outside of Penn Station and get some fresh air. This idea was spurred on in mid-July, when the temps inside of the station were reaching two hundred degrees. While getting outside for some air is a great idea, this is also he same idea that the smokers have. The fresh air I desired would not be found there.

Option three has become my favorite. It's a game. How far can I walk and still make it back before my train? I'm becoming increasingly familiar with the streets and avenues around Penn Station. My favorite Starbucks is at 39th and 8th, it has a second floor seating area!  I can make it to the Jamba Juice at 23rd and 7th with time to spare. It's a great game and good exercise too!  You might even see me strolling by Good Morning America on the days that I head north!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Peanutty Noodles

I'm looking forward to this week because I get to have this for lunch!  You remember last week that I bought boyfriend NHL 2012?  Well, my plan worked!  I had a whole hour to mess around in the kitchen yesterday and make something to eat for the week.  I even made some quick and dirty ice cream, which I'll share with you all later in the week.

While boyfriend was happily playing Xbox hockey I was in the kitchen throwing together this pasta dish.  It literally took me ten minutes to take this dish from fridge to Gladware.  All you have to do to prepare this dish is boil some water!  I have had this cookbook for a few years now and haven't cooked nearly enough of the recipes.  This weekend I made two of the recipes in thirty minutes!  I think that I'll be making a few more of Nigellas dishes because I sometimes want a really quick dinner when I get home from work.

Sunday was a good day for all in the Wilde household.  Boyfriend beat some kid over Xbox live and I got to make lunch for work.  Happy people all around!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Nougat Bars

It's Friday, Friday, Friday...  I'm sorry to those of you who now have that song in your head.  Those of you who don't know what I'm talking about should head to YouTube and search "Friday."  Go ahead, I'll wait... 

There we go, now everyone is in a good mood, thinking about which seat they'll choose and how they want a bowl of cereol.  I know, the song is super annoying, but it puts me in a good mood!  Fridays have taken on such a new meaning since I've started my new life in the real world.

Fridays are the last day of the week that I have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning.  Fridays are usually devoid of meetings at work and everyone heads out the door by 4:30.  Friday evenings are for relaxing with boyfriend, eating pizza, Chinese food or sandwiches.  Friday is payday too!  Woot, payday!  Friday also means that the weekend is upon us and I get to spend some time in the kitchen.

This weekend I expect to get lots of baking and cooking done.  You know why?  It's because I'm an awesome girlfriend.  While at lunch yesterday I stopped by the video game store and got boyfriend NHL 2012.  Something that he has been suggesting that I buy him for at least three months.  It was just released on Tuesday and he's very excited about it.  When I gave it to him last night he was all jazzed, then he told me I had to learn how to play...  Hmmm, that wasn't part of my distraction plan...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baked Pears & Salad

This whole, Working in the real world, thing is taking some getting used to!  Between the corporate and academic worlds there seems to be an inverse relationship between working hours and meetings.  That relationship has been very apparent this week and it's only Tuesday.  Let me explain.

While I was working in academia I spent the majority of my hours in the lab.  I have friends who worked for professors with set work hours of 9am - 11pm, with an hour break for dinner of course!  Yet, when it came to meetings, they were almost non-existant.  We had once-weekly group meetings for an hour or two every Monday.  During the summer we didn't have any meetings!  Summer was the time to get lots of work done in the lab, not time to sit in the conference room!

Working in the corporate world, my hours have been cut in half.  Sadly, my time in the lab has been reduced by at least 60% too.  I like working in the lab, I like making stuff.  With this decrease in working hours has come an increase in meetings.  In the 16 work hours so far this week, I've spent half of them in meetings.  My butt has been falling asleep a lot, I need to bring my office chair with me to these five hour meetings.

I've been told to get used to all the meetings, because my schedule is only going to get more full as I've worked there longer.  At least I'm learning lots of new and exciting things at these meetings!  Sounds like my working hours are going to increase a little more as I get a fuller schedule, luckily I was given a laptop at my new job!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Congo Bars

Welcome to a new week everyone, I hope that you had a great weekend.  It feels like the summer is slowly winding down and the cooler days of fall are easing in.  Boyfriend and I spent this weekend enjoying New York and paying some tribute to the people that lost their lives ten years ago.  Saturday night we were headed home from the grocery store and noticed a bright spot on the clouds.  After pondering for a moment we realized that the bright spot was caused by the Tribute in Light in Lower Manhattan.

We took a drive up the hill, to the Eagle Rock Reservation, and spent some time enjoying this view...

We weren't the only people to have this same idea.  Even though it was 8:30 at night and the night air was getting chilly, dozens of people were milling about.  They were enjoying the view, remembering the day and what I found most interesting, sharing the story of 9/11 with their children and grandchildren.  The day is so bright in my memory, that it's still strange to think that it was ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I was just an undergraduate.  I had just completed my first analytical chemistry exam of the semester and was headed to the bank.  The radio was streaming news of the events in New York City and I was very confused.  Coming into the story in mid-conversation was very difficult and trying to determine what was happening from the radio was not easy.  From the bank I headed home in time to see the both World Trade Center towers engulfed in flames.

Upon returning to campus, there were televisions everywhere.  About 30% of the student population came from the metro New York area and this event hit our campus very close to home.  With my friends, in the campus lounge, we watched the events of the day unfold.

Yesterday, boyfriend and I headed to New York.  We headed to the New York Times building to check out their pictoral gallery in the lobby.  I had been seeing this 9/11 tribute gallery for the past few days and really wanted to walk through.  If you happen to be in NYC today, you should stop by and have a look, it was very well done. 

On a completely different note, I spent some time this weekend baking.  Boyfriend had some work to do on his computer and I decided that I had some work to get done in the kitchen!    I had a bunch of coconut to use up and thought these bars would be the perfect vehicle for them.  Throw in your favorite nuts and chocolate chips and you've got yourself a perfect treat.  Oh yeah, and did you know that nothing smells better than Graham cracker crumbs and butter?  Delicious.

Congo Bars
Adapted from Fat Witch Brownies

So, I was a little lazy this weekend and bought pre-crumbed, Graham cracker crumbs.  You can, of course, use whole Graham crackers and crust them up.  Take 11 crackers and put them in a zip-top bag, bash the heck out of them with a rolling pin!  Oh delicious graham crackers!

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
7 tbsp butter, melted

1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease an 8x8-inch pan with cooking spray.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar.  Add melted butter and mix thoroughly.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.  While the crust is cooling, combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Add the coconut mixture on the top of the crust and spread evenly.  Bake for another 20 minutes to set the topping.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Loosen the edges with a spatula and invert on a cutting board.  Flip over and cut into 9 pieces, OM NOM NOM!!!
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