I don’t know if it really came across there, but that was meant to be a spooky sort of ghost noise in the post title. Just go with it.
So last Sunday, the UWO Early Music Ensemble (the recorder quartet that I play in) got together for a Movie Night to eat tasty food and watch a documentary on Carlo Gesualdo. Actually, I’m going to go ahead and say that it was a “documentary” because dear, old Werner Herzog definitely took some wacky liberties here – not that Gesualdo wasn’t a super crazy guy, but Werner really took it to the next level. In the words of Jason Mantzoukas, this movie was bonkers. Any description I give you won’t do it justice whatsoever, but I think if you have a quick Google around, you can probably track it down on a website that rhymes with Shoe…Lube, I guess?
But it’s a fun group of folks (the flute professor and fellow Star Wars Minute fan who plays alto; a pre-med pianist who plays tenor; an oboist who plays the soprano; and yours truly floundering around on bass) and we were joined by Drew and one of the vocal professors. We had lentil sloppy joes, a butternut pasta, a spicy corn dip, and pumpkin blondies (yes, I’m a basic bitch and love my pumpkin baked goods in the fall).
And I just realized that I kept putting off taking a picture of the blondes and now it’s too late – they’re all gone! Well, just use your imaginations…
I was actually a little disappointed in how these turned out – they were dense and fudge in texture, like a brownie, but obviously had the (very strong) flavor of pumpkin. Turns out I like my pumpkin items not so…moist (I probably could have baked them a skosh longer. I also put in pecans and I definitely wish I hadn’t – nuts have no place in baked goods. There. I said it. I’d say it again if I had to. So a bit of a bust if you ask me, but I think people enjoyed them. I was trying to resist, but I may just have to go back to Paula Deen’s pumpkin bars – they may be racist, but they’re soooooo tasty! 😦
On Sunday, Drew and I invited the students in his saxophone studio over to watch the Packers game as a welcome back for the new school year. Drew made two different kinds of chili – one was chipotle and chicken and one was a vegetarian chili verde. I didn’t actually try the chipotle and chicken version, but it smelled amazing; the veggie chili was soooooo tasty – and I think most of the students stayed away which is fine – more for me! My contributions were the cornbread (my go-to cornbread – I prefer a sweet cornbread, more like cake than anything),
and two desserts. The first was brownies with caramel, pecans, and pretzels – they were super yummy, if a little bit too much for me.
The second was an apple streusel bar with homemade salted caramel sauce. The sauce is a-MAH-zing. I’ve always been a bit scared of homemade caramel – I’ve done it, but I’m not super consistent – but this recipe was so easy and turned out so well, sweet and salty and caramel-y and perfect. By far my favorite dessert of the two. Yum!
Not very good for my diet, but good for my tastebuds!
Jillian and I had a TV party a couple of weeks ago, too, and we…went a little crazy with the food that we made.
I made Cherry Cheesecake Scones (white chocolate-cherry scones with chunks of actual cheesecake baked in them), Apple Cheddar Beer (Cider) Bread (very nice – sweet and savory at the same time), Blueberry Goat Cheese Focaccia (also tasty – and pretty easy, too, which was a nice surprise), and a Chocolate Babka (which was unexpectedly and hilariously huge – but also very tasty, sweet but not too sweet, though I think the cream cheese filling could have actually used a bit of sugar). Jillian brought her famous cheesy bread, adapted from this version at Simply Recipes, Shrimp With Fennel (which was very yummy – with a nice bit of heat to it), and gorgeous Corn Cakes With Avocado Salsa (holy cats, yum!).
We could barely make it through two rounds of food, but it was worth the food comas we had by the time we were done. And they didn’t stop us from picking away at thirds (and fourths). Combine all this yummy food with an afternoon of Parks and Rec and Veep and it was very nearly a perfect day!
For all my baking, pies are definitely not my specialty – I hardly ever make them! But when Kate invited us to a Memorial Day barbecue at their place, I decided the time was right – right for a Strawberry-Orange-Rhubarb Pie. And it was sooooo good!
We managed to polish off about half of the pie at the party and then Drew and I ate the rest of it the next day. It was sweet but not too sweet and a little tart but not too tart and the filling was lovely and jammy, not runny. The crust, which was a butter crust made in the food processor (my usual go-to crust is a Crisco crust made by hand), was perfect – sweet, flaky, tender. I added some turbinado sugar on top of the egg wash which gave it a nice extra sweet crunch. Yum!
Make Cream of Celery Soup! Soup is so forgiving, it’s always my go-to option for vegetables that are very nearly dead. I did run into a problem in the form of a disgusting potato (even though I’d just bought it) so Drew came to my rescue and ran to the market to replace it (and to get flour and baking powder – who runs out of baking powder?! – which allowed me to make us a dessert, too). It was not my night in the kitchen – I didn’t have enough baking powder for the Whole-Wheat Beer Bread and also had to substitute bread flour for all-purpose in that recipe, I spilled flour and butter all over me while making Orange and Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Scones, encountered the aforementioned gross potato, and may or may not have lost an earring back in a bowl of diced onions (Drew got me an onion to replace that one, too) – but somehow everything turned out all right!
The celery soup tastes like celery, but in a good way and the beer bread is a lovely combination of salty and a little bit of sweetness. Yum!
The scones are tasty, as well – I baked off two of them for us to eat that evening and the other four are in the freezer waiting for just the right moment. Can’t wait!
I originally bought the strawberries that have featured in the last few cooking items to make this one recipe – the strawberries got a bit out of hand, I’ll admit that, and have found their way into pretty much every other thing I’ve made since then. But they were originally intended to be used in this Mahi with Strawberry-Avocado Salsa which turned out to be super tasty! The first night, I used the Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning that Drew brought back with him from New Orleans – it’s good but it’s very salty, so the next night, I used Emeril’s Essence instead and I think that had a better salt level. The salsa is really good – yummy on fish, but probably also just as good eaten with tortilla chips! To go with it, I also made the String Beans with Ginger and Garlic that I usually make at Thanksgiving, but without the ginger since I wasn’t sure that would go with the flavors in the fish and salsa. Still tasty just with the garlic!
Then, to use up some sour cream and cream cheese that I had around from the strawberry doughnuts I’d made, I made these Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. They turned out a little drier than I would have liked, but they’re still chocolate cupcakes, so how bad can they be! And I added a little bit of strawberry extract to the frosting, but was a little too cautious with it and you couldn’t really taste it. Next time I’ll know to add more!
It was another strawberry kind of day around here, so for dinner we had Strawberry Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes with Mint.
Then we had lots of doughnuts. Too many doughnuts. Naw, who am I kidding?! There’s no such thing as too many doughnuts! And these Baked Strawberry Doughnuts were totally worth it.