Friday Faves

photo 2

{this candle was a gift from my friend Amanda – isn’t it perfect?}

Would you believe this is B&B’s 100th post?  I know, it seems crazy. I have yet to receive a book deal (sigh), but I would like to think I’m getting a teensy bit better at wordpress, at least.  Baby steps. The blog has been so much fun for me, and even though I’m not always as consistent as I’d like to be (see, e.g., mid-May through mid-July 2014), it’s so much more fun to try a new recipe or restaurant when I know I get to share it with all of you.  And – confession time – sometimes I use Friday Faves as an excuse to buy things. Don’t tell.

This week has been spent waiting around for my new baby nephew to make his debut – today’s his due date, and we’re still waiting.  I’m predicting he comes today – cross your fingers (for my poor sister, who is R-E-A-D-Y to be done being pregnant).  If I’m wrong, my weekend will be filled with more waiting. Come on, Baby P!! In the meantime, some links and faves. Happy Friday!

photo-11

{delicious and healthy lunch from garden bar in portland – I wish someone would open this in seattle!}

photo 2-4

{cupcakes for my cousin clare’s bridal shower – didn’t they turn out so cute?
toppers here, papers here}

photo 2

{this mascara is amazing}

photo-29

{some of my favorite things from the diaper bag I put together for baby p}

photo-28

{including the most adorable honest company diapers!}

Advertisements

Friday Faves

photo 1

{make your own ice cream sandwich at Hello Robin}

What are you up to this weekend? I’m heading to the coast for my cousin’s bachelorette party – we’re excited for some cooler beach temperatures after another sweltering week. And Baby Nephew Watch 2014 is officially ON – T minus one week to go.  I’m so excited I can hardly stay away from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale bear it. Doctor says he might be early, so next week’s Friday Faves could be all baby pics (don’t say I didn’t warn you)!! My poor sis is more than ready for him to make his debut, but I’m hoping he sits tight until at least Wednesday so that he’s a Leo (not that I particularly care about astrological signs, but I’ve bought him a LOT of lion stuff and I don’t want it to be for naught). 

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. Links and faves to get you through your Friday morning (and the links even have a theme this week, I’m getting so fancy!):

  • How to grill anything and everything – so many helpful tips! 
  • How to make entertaining look easy – I would add “get yourself ready ahead of time.”  My aunt threw a dinner party this past Christmas and told me she told my uncle beforehand “our goal is to be sitting on the couch with a glass of wine half an hour before the guests arrive.” I’m usually still drying my hair when my guests arrive, but the thirty minute/wine/couch rule is now my goal too.
  • How to be the most popular person at a party – my friend Larisa brought these to a beach weekend a couple months ago and they were amazing! 
  • How to cure a headache – I need this! 
  • How to get really excited about this movie – ok this really isn’t a “how to” – but it does make me VERY excited for October 3rd!!  I hope you’ve all read the book – even if you hated the ending.  And if you haven’t read it yet, you have 2.5 months! 

photo 1-5

{my new summer obsession – stumptown cold brew}

photo 1

{love this organic lip/cheek color}

photo-13

{peaceful summer evening at the driving range}

photo-7

{some pics from my sister’s baby shower last month –  can you tell we were pretty into our alligator theme? invitations and banner from olive + star, alligator brownie toppers from etsy, DIY vases, cookie favors by yours truly, and cordy roy and his mini radio flyer from auntie/hostess Amanda}

photo-10

{and of course, my gift to baby p – hopefully he’s a baseball fan!}

Friday Faves, Seahawks Edition

12th man

Happy Super Bowl Weekend, everyone! I don’t know about you, but this Seahawks fan is pretty excited about the game. As much as I wish I could be in the stands in East Rutherford on Sunday, it turns out that’s a hard ticket to come by (sad face), so I’ll be cheering on my Hawks from Seattle. True story: the last time the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl (incidentally, also the first time they went to the Super Bowl), I went to a game-watch party at a friend’s house in Seattle.  I had purchased a Hasselbeck jersey that year, but although I tried to look the part, I wasn’t really a true fan.  Some girlfriends and I somehow got the idea that we’d have a better chance of getting a pizza delivered to our house rather than delivered to the party, so we left at halftime under the guise of – wait for it – going to Sunday night mass. No wonder the Hawks lost – that had to have been some pretty bad karma. Although we did watch the second half (bad calls and all) from the comforts of our own couch, with an entire Papa John’s delivery to ourselves.

all photos from martha stewart

all photos from martha stewart

Fast forward eight years later, and I take my game day menus a lot more seriously. I don’t have a jersey this time, but I’m going to attempt the entire spread from this month’s Martha Stewart Living, along with a couple other staples. I’m not really a chicken wings kind of person, but apparently they’re a must-have for any football event, so I thought Martha’s tequila-lime drumettes looked relatively simple and healthy. I also don’t eat hot dogs (barf!), but I loved the look of these “pigs in a blanket” with sausage and frozen pastry dough, sprinkled with flaky sea salt and poppy seeds. And just so that I can have something to eat too, her “love dip” and chocolate pretzel bark.

cupcakes

The next question then becomes, what to do for dessert (apparently I’m not counting the pretzel bark as dessert). The cookie and cupcake possibilities are endless, but in the interests of time I’ll probably just do some basic blue and green cupcakes and then decorate them with the toppers I bought off Etsy last year right before our ill-fated game against Atlanta (multiple options here).   If you want to get really fancy with either your cupcake decorating, or just decorating in general, check out these tips from Seattle’s resident cupcake and party guru, Jennifer Shea of Trophy Cupcakes & Party (I guess I’ll be making a trip to Home Depot for some Astro Turf tomorrow!).   A tip if you’re planning on decorating your “Beast Mode” cupcakes with Skittles (as I hope you are): don’t put the skittles on the cupcakes until right before you put them out, as the candy coating will bleed all over your frosting.  Same goes for brown Peanut M&M’s on cupcakes with green frosting (you know the ones where you pipe frosting “laces” onto the M&M’s so they look like footballs? So cute, but they also bleed).  I learned that lesson the hard way last season, although my candy-bleeding tragedy paled in comparison to the tragedy of the game itself.

my favorite way to decorate

my favorite way to decorate

Some of my other game day favorites and inspirations include:

If anyone has any favorite Super Bowl party recipes, I would love to hear them in the comments. I’m also always open to fun games or prop bets for anyone who’s watching the game more for the commercials and/or halftime show.  Wishing everyone a wonderful Super Bowl Weekend – Go Hawks!!

mani

Holiday Rum Cake

image

Happy Rum Cake Blog Post Day, everyone! This cake is one of my all time favorite things to make, and thus I had every intention of posting the recipe as soon as possible (or rather, as soon as seasonally appropriate)…but of course somehow this blog fell off my radar after Thanksgiving and all of the sudden it’s December 20. Yikes. (Let’s not even talk about how my Christmas shopping is going – double yikes).

But anyways. Let’s talk about rum cake, shall we? This recipe is courtesy of my friends Courteney and Kyle, or perhaps more accurately courtesy of their mom Cyndie, since of course they got it from her. I listened to Courteney talk about her mom’s rum cake all throughout college, but never actually tried it until Kyle served one at a Christmas party a few years ago. Alcohol in desserts isn’t usually my thing (weird, I know), but one boozy, buttery bite of this cake and I was hooked – as is everyone who tries it. It’s quick and easy and makes a great holiday dessert or hostess gift, which is why I meant to post this earlier in the season for everyone’s benefit – better late than never, though, right?

photo 1

Two recipes featuring boxed cake mix within one month, how embarrassing. I’m going to have to get a little more gourmet in January to make up for it. The “butter golden” boxes can be hard to find, though, so when I see them I have to stock up.

photo 2

This cake really could not be easier to make – start with the cake mix, add eggs and oil, a box of pudding mix to make it extra moist and yummy, and of course rum in lieu of water.

photo 3

Just blend all five ingredients together and pour into a bundt cake pan.

photo 4

Cyndie’s tip is to grease the pan really well with the “PAM for baking” spray – this ensures that the cake won’t stick to the pan at all, which will make it easier for the cake to soak up the glaze.

photo 5

photo 1

Making the glaze is the fun part – just dump a little more rum in a saucepan, along with water, sugar, and a stick of butter. Heat until the butter is melted and then bring the mixture to a boil – make sure to boil for the full two-three minutes so that at least some of the rum cooks out (a quick google search re: how much alcohol remains in rum cake after baking was inconclusive, but at least some of it evaporates, right?).

photo 2

photo 3

Pour the glaze over the cake and let it all soak in. Flip the cake, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and voilá, the easiest and most festive “semi-homemade” cake you could ever want or need.

image

Cyndie O’Brien’s Christmas Rum Cake

For cake:
One box Duncan Hines Butter Golden cake mix
One small box instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup Crisco oil (vegetable or canola oil will work)
1/2 cup dark rum, such as Meyer’s

For glaze:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup water
Powdered sugar (for dusting), optional

To make cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray bundt cake pan generously with “PAM for baking,” or grease and flour the pan well. Mix all cake ingredients well – I usually use an electric mixer and blend it for a couple minutes, but you can do it by hand if necessary. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.

To make glaze:
When the cake is almost finished baking, melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar, water, and rum. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for two to three minutes – watch carefully as it boils over easily if you aren’t stirring constantly.

To finish:
Once cake is out of oven, pour the glaze over the cake while it’s still in the pan – let the glaze soak into the cake and drain down around the edges where the cake will have pulled away from the pan a bit – this will allow the glaze to coat the sides of the cake and give the whole thing a nice buttery, rummy crust. Let the glazed cake cool in the pan for a minimum of 20 minutes (longer if possible). Flip the cake onto a cake stand or serving platter and dust with powdered sugar.

photo-101

I love making this cake in my mini bundt cake pan as well – one recipe makes six mini cakes, and they make the perfect dinner party dessert as well as great gifts. I’m also going to make bite sized cakes once I get my hands on this pan – anything for portion control! I’ll hopefully update with photos soon – there are six days left between now and Christmas (yes, I’m counting today and Christmas Day), which means there are plenty of opportunities for rum cakes of any size.

Update: bundt, mini bundt, and bite-size bundt:

photo 5

Wishing everyone a wonderful and relaxing holiday. Thanks to the lovely O’Brien ladies for letting me share their recipe! And happy rum cake baking to everyone!

Crunchy Baked Pasta with Sausage (or Squash) and Greens

photo 5-8

photo 1-23

I made this recipe for the first time when I was staying with friends in Boston last month, and it was both simple and delicious. As such, I made it a second time last weekend, when my parents hosted 40 people at their home for my grandparents’ birthday party (yes, they were born a day apart and thus share their party every year). It’s the perfect meal for anything from an intimate dinner to a large group, as it you can do it ahead of time and its easy to serve, but it still seems a little fancier than a lasagna or boring casserole-type dish.

photo 2-19

photo 3-10

photo 5-7

I found broccoli rabe without incident the first time, but not the second – so when I quadrupled the recipe for the birthday party I used swiss chard instead. Both were great, but Smitten Kitchen suggests regular broccoli or brocolini if you can’t find rabe; I would think any hearty green would work as well (next time I might try kale). The only time consuming part of the dish is stemming and chopping the broccoli rabe/chard, everything else is pretty quick and easy.

photo 2-20

When I made it the first time, I followed the recipe exactly, except that I only added sausage to half (recipe makes one 9 x 13 casserole, but can easily be split into two 8 x 8s). SK lists proportions for a “light” amount of sauce, and recommends you multiply them by 1.5 for a “heavier” sauced dish. I did that, and did not find it overly saucy at all, so that’s what I list below as I really can’t imagine less sauce would be enough. But I suppose its all personal preference – you can check out her version in the link. I also found the original version to be pretty garlicky, although I don’t love garlic so it could be just me. Regardless, when I made it a second time I roasted the garlic (a whole head, drizzled in olive oil and wrapped in foil, at 400 degrees for about half an hour). I then used the same number of cloves called for (3 per batch), and found the garlic flavor to be much more subtle. Again, just personal preference. My friend Lindsay made this the other night and added minced garlic in with the sausage when she cooked it – same idea.

photo-68

photo 3-11

Finally, when I made four batches for the party, I did four separate casseroles so that I could accommodate as many preferences as possible – three different types of sausage (sweet, spicy, and chicken) and then one vegetarian. When I had the vegetarian version in Boston I really thought it could use something, so this time I roasted a butternut squash. SK suggests mushrooms would be another good alternative – but the squash got rave reviews even from the meat eaters, and seems pretty perfect for this time of year.

photo 1-24

photo 4-9

photo-67

Crunchy Baked Pasta with Sausage (or Squash) and Greens, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Pasta and Assembly
1 lb. campanelle, or any chunky pasta you like
1 bundle broccoli rabe, swiss chard, or green of your choice (the greens will cook down a lot, so what looks like a ton raw ends up being not that much)
1 lb. Italian sausage (sweet or spicy pork or chicken), casings removed (or one butternut squash)
1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes

Béchamel Sauce
3 cups whole milk (I used half whole and half 2% the second time and found it to be a little less rich – in a good way)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/8 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used a lot)
3 cloves garlic, minced – if roasted, I just gave them a rough smash and chop
Small sprinkle of nutmeg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions, add broccoli rabe five minutes before pasta is to be finished (if using chard, wait until two minutes before cooking time is up; if using another green, you’ll want it to cook for a lesser time the more delicate it is, or longer the heartier it is – i.e. broccoli would also be five minutes, spinach would be one minute). Drain pasta and greens and set aside in a large bowl.

Brown your sausage in a small amount of olive oil. If you’re making the vegetarian version, peel, seed, and dice a medium-sized butternut squash. You can buy it pre-chopped almost anywhere, but its kind of fun to do it yourself and it really doesn’t take much time. Toss it with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and roast on a well-greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet at 400 degrees for about half an hour, turning once or twice. If it gets a little crispy, like mine did (as evidenced in the photo above), that’s ok. Either the sausage or the squash can be done ahead of time, and it will make putting the casserole together that much quicker.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and stir until smooth, then cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add a small amount of the milk and whisk until combined. Continue to add milk in very small amounts, whisking the whole time – this is where a plastic, flat-bottomed whisk comes in really handy. Once about half of the milk is added and combined, you can add the other half more quickly. Once all the milk is added and the mixture is smooth, add salt, pepper, garlic, and nutmeg and let simmer for about ten minutes (I always worry that mine won’t thicken properly, and thus turn the burner up for about a minute before I turn it down to simmer – no idea if it helps or not but it makes me feel better – regardless, do that at your own risk). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Finally, add mozzarella, half the parmesan, sausage (or squash), and béchamel to the bowl with the pasta and greens; toss to coat everything with the sauce. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 or 3-quart casserole dish, sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top of the pasta, and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Bon Appétit!

Friday Faves

image

Happy fall, friends! Technically I’m two days ahead of schedule, as the equinox isn’t until Sunday, but its starting to really feel like the seasons are changing in Seattle. All my summer weddings are over, the air is getting crisp, and we’re almost four weeks into football season, so autumn is pretty much here in my book. Which is good news for so many reasons, including all of the pumpkin-themed recipes I get to start making. Cookies, muffins, soups, granola – I hardly know where to begin. And that’s just pumpkin, don’t even get me started on squash and root vegetables. If you have any favorite fall recipes, I would love to hear them in the comments. (I made these pumpkin snickerdoodles for a “new baby dinner” last week, if you’re in a baking mood this weekend – pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin granola coming Monday).

image

How fun are these vodka escort cards at my friends’ Jody and Anton’s (half) Russian wedding last weekend?

image

Love the fig garnish on this gorgeous tart (obviously not homemade, but maybe someday).

image

I adore all of the beetle print happening at Tory Burch right now. Including this bag, and the Jasmine top that my idol Mindy Kaling wore on her press tour this week (seen here).

image

Hawks tailgate on Sunday – crab feed, Philly cheese steaks, green and blue cupcakes and Jell-O shots, the Manning bowl, flip cup, and a tailgate puppy named Mosley. Have I mentioned how much I love fall?!?

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope yours is filled with pumpkin and tailgates, and/or anything else that you love about this season.

Friday Faves

So I realized last night that we’re halfway through August, and thus two weeks away from Labor Day. Can someone please tell me how that happened? Where did the summer go? Fall is my favorite season, so I’m not too sad, but it’s always a little scary to realize how fast time is flying by. It was almost dark at 8:30 last night – as excited as I am for sweaters and boots and football season, that kind of made me want to cry. Next week I might have to focus on more “summery” highlights, but for now, some randoms:

image

Coffee and breakfast treats at my favorite Madrona café on Sunday morning, after dropping off my Glassybaby rental (let’s pretend that peach scone is a tofu scramble, Carrie Underwood-diet-style).

image

Thank you gift from my friends Ellie and Charlie after our play date last Saturday night. Babysitting used to pay five dollars an hour, and I would do homework once the kids went to bed – this time I received a lovely “sussie” instead, and I got to pour myself a glass of wine and watch Mindy Project reruns after the babies went down.

image

Falafel salad – my new obsession from Harried & Hungry, my favorite grab-and-go workweek lunch place. Healthy(ish) falafel recipe coming soon – such a great vegetarian (and gluten free!) option that I often forget about.

image

Happy hour at Bottlehouse, my new favorite summer/deck/happy hour hang out in Madrona (where I spent a lot of time last week).

image

Some of my favorite pics from my brother’s wedding last weekend (at least, from those that were on my phone) – clockwise from top left: terrible angle for me, but somehow the only picture I have of me and Joe; my hair, which I was obsessed with – after countless weddings with “meh” bridesmaid hair, finally a “messy side bun” that turned out like I wanted it to (and on a related note, anyone planning a wedding in the Portland area should call Portland Makeup and Hair immediately); the beautiful bride and groom; killing time pre-ceremony  with the adorable flower girls.

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy these last few weeks of summer while they last!