Kitchen Adventures, Olympic Edition: Pineapple Upside-down Cake

16 Feb

What better way is there to celebrate the Olympics than by singing to Daft Punk eating the Olympic rings? None.  We adapted a classic pineapple upside-down cake to fit into the Olympic spirit, rainbow rings and all.  Make your own before the games end on February 23, and let me know how it goes!

Olympic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from good old Betty Crocker)

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar (slightly less for Olympic version)
  • Red, green, and blue food coloring
  • 1 can sliced pineapple, drained (will only use 5 rings for Olympic version) – save the juice, too!
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  1. Pat dry 5 pineapple rings – they don’t have to be too dry, just enough so that the color won’t run. In 4 separate containers, mix one drop of food color with a splash of pineapple juice, then lay one ring of pineapple in each color (red, blue, green, and one with a tiny bit of each to make black).  Yellow is just the plain pineapple ring.  Don’t flip the rings (since we only want the color on the top), but do move them around the container a bit to get all the dye onto them.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat butter in a 10-inch cake pan.
  3. While the butter is melting, combine flour through egg in a mixer, and beat at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Then beat at high speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl as you go.
  4. Arrange pineapple slices color-side-down in the butter, then sprinkle brown sugar in a thin layer over the remaining butter, so there’s either a pineapple or brown sugar coating the entire base of the pan.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove, and immediately invert over a plate, keeping the pan on top for a few minutes.  Remove and reveal your pineapples, then serve warm.

Enjoy with a mug of hot cocoa while cheering on your favorite Olympians.

Music Monday: rolling into the new year on a wrecking ball

6 Jan

Just because the year’s over doesn’t mean we’re safe from the earworms that defined our year – those dudes at the thrift shop, that chick on the wrecking ball, the techno beats that wake us up and get us rocking.  Having a Spotify account this year made me so much more hip as I could listen to these songs as they came out.  What will 2014 hold?  Dare I predict… a lot of Beyonce?

 

Top 13

3 Jan

I know it makes me sound like an old fart, but I don’t care: I don’t know where this year went.

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing the wrong year on letters (yes, I still write letters) and scheming for summer adventures, and now we’re back at the top of the year again, ready to dive into a new 12 months.  Here are some of the moments I’ll remember as we close the book on this journey we called 2013:

  1. Getting to see 4 great friends marry the loves of their lives and start their happily ever afters, and seeing others get engaged and plan their own bashes!
  2. Adventures with Grandma Boo Boo, including sharing our love of crafts with other people in her community and endless shopping trips to Target
  3. Two great visits to California, including an epic road trip down the coast with my sister
  4. Running my first – but certainly not last – half marathon
  5. Sitting on the couch, watching TV for 10+ hours with Katie during the Boston lockdown following the marathon bombing, and running back inside with our froyo when we heard that the suspect had been caught
  6. Finally getting to work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to do online advocacy for a cure
  7. Winning the World Series and feeling like a united city and a family, instead of a bunch of people who just happen to live near each other
  8. Awesome family vacations from Maine to NH to a cozy Christmas week in our hometown
  9. Saying goodbye to my Grandma Sugarplum, who taught me so much and loved us all endlessly
  10. Going to my 5-year college reunion and realizing, more than ever before, how much my beloved alma mater and the friends I made there mean to me.  Mount Holyoke forever shall be!
  11. Making all sorts of delicious food for my friends, officemates, and family
  12. Seeing the fight for women’s rights unfold across the country, and getting to stand with Wendy and other politicians who were standing up for women – this fight is far from over, and I’m planning to be on the front lines in 2014
  13. Having extraordinary fun with ordinary life – from our annual Oscar party to weekly breakfast with Sara to trivia nights with Katie and the gang to joining TWO social sports teams (volleyball! softball! what will I do in between??) to dinners out with friends, this year has been full of reminders of the joy that can be found in the everyday moments.

Kitchen Adventure: Maple roasted pumpkin seeds

9 Dec

The best part of making this delicious recipe for Thanksgiving was seeing how incredibly easy it is to toast your own pumpkin seeds.  Where has this idea been my whole life??  They’re great for:

  • putting on top of stir-frys
  • adding to salads
  • snacking (dangerous, but good)
  • putting on top of a pumpkin pie

With one bag of pumpkin seeds, you can make at least 3 servings of this – plenty of time to try all the combinations you can dream of!

pumpkin seeds

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 3/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, coating the seeds with oil and syrup.  Pour into a foil-lined pan (rimmed cookie sheets work best, but I just used a baking dish).
  3. Cook until toasted – about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool before enjoying on top of anything and everything you can imagine.

Kitchen Adventure: Easy cheesy frittata

6 Dec

For those nights when you can’t get enough cheese… when you want to use as few pans as possible… when you want leftovers you can eat for a week – this meal is for those nights!

cheesy goodness

 

Easy Cheesy Frittata 

  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 whole eggs, beat
  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 cups cheese (I used a 4 cheese “Mediterranean” blend of sharp Provolone, feta, Kasseri, and Romano)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved, or two large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Caramelize the onions in a small frying pan, cooking over medium heat with olive oil until golden.  Remove from pan and set aside in large bowl.
  3. Sauté the broccoli in a pan with water until it’s lightly steamed.  Add chopped garlic and cook until easily cut with a fork.  Add to the bowl with onions.
  4. Beat the eggs and cheese together, add to the bowl with cooked veggies and chopped tomatoes.  Mix together and transfer to large baking dish.
  5. Cook for 25-30 mins or until cheese is melted and eggs are set.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between!

How I learned to stop worrying and get clean

5 Dec

I’m a tidy person (as long as you don’t ask my coworkers).  I take good care of my space and I like getting down and dirty now and then, with the reward of a sparkling house to show for my work.

But since I’ve started living in my current apartment, I never had time to really take on my chores the way they deserved.  There was always something else I needed – or really wanted! – to do.  Going to the gym, trivia with my friends, getting some great project knocked out at work, catching up with my family – there are a million ways I can think of spending a few hours, and they all kept winning over cleaning.

Then I read this amazing book: Happy Money, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.   I heard Michael speak at the Boston Book Fest, bought the book on the spot, and think it’s the best purchase I ever made.  Until this week.

Because this week, I finally got a house cleaner.  And now, I’m never looking back.

Coming home and seeing that my stove really CAN get clean, looking at our shiny mirrors and smudge-free floors, kicking off the month with a squeaky-clean start – it made me realize how much I had resigned myself to just be constantly a little bit unhappy with our apartment, our home.  I thought that somehow, if I couldn’t make this work on my own, I deserved to not be satisfied.  But after reading Happy Money, I realized that this simply isn’t true – not when I could spend a few bucks to have some help.  Now, I don’t just have a cleaner house – I have more time to do the things I care about (who would have thought you could buy time!  These authors did!), and I have a house that I want to welcome people into 10x more than before.  And I plan to do just that.

And if it gets dirty again because my friends and I have some fun?  The cleaners are coming back next month, and we can start fresh – together – once more.

Hug a redwood: achievement unlocked

26 Nov

Sometimes you don’t know what you really want until it’s right in front of you.

The minute I got to San Francisco, I knew: I couldn’t leave this city until I hugged a redwood tree.

Sure, the delicious dumplings were also noteworthy, as were drinks with friends I see hardly ever, and getting to hang out with my ridiculous west coast colleagues.  But there was a redwood-sized hole in my heart that only a hug could fix.

So on Saturday, Dan (my high school prom date), Steven (his fiancé), and I headed out into the Muir Woods for a redwood adventure.  If you’re in the area, do not miss this park – it was everything I dreamed it would be and more.  The trees were so enormous and so different from the pines and oaks back in New England.  The canopy above looked like a caricature of itself, with small pinwheeled branches reaching toward the sun.

And even without going off the path, I got to hug and climb inside not one but half a dozen redwoods, having my own Ferngully moment of appreciating these trees that are older than everyone I know, older than most of the states in the union, and still reaching toward the sky all the same.

IMG_7491

Hugging a redwood for the first time! (with Dan peeking over my shoulder)

IMG_7519

My walking buddies, Steven and Dan

IMG_7520

Redwood canopy, as seen by a short human

Achievement unlocked – now on to the next goal!

 

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