A Post-Grad's Attempt at a Healthy, Joyful, and Blissfully Sweet Life

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cooking for a Crowd

hello hello there!

i hope you all had wonderful thanksgiving, full of delicious eats! this year mine was quite eventful-i was hired to be the head baker for an inn and all the desserts were up to me to create! which is basically  my dream come true.

after much deliberation and recipe pondering (probably the most fun homework ever), i decided on making pumpkin pie, pecan pie, pumpkin biscotti, spice cupcakes with chai buttercream frosting, and a flourless chocolate torte. YUM!

the kitchen i made a mess of baked in!
I brought over a test run of the pecan pie to Luke's family, and knew the recipe was a keeper when his dad declared it was officially his favorite thing I ever made him. Guess he couldn't tell that the main ingredient was tofu ;)

most of the time i had that whole kitchen to myself, which was wonderful.  once i learned my way around i was zooming like a mad woman from stove burner to oven to mixing bowl to timer.  i am pretty sure the guard who kept "dropping by" one of the nights i was baking was actually legitimately concerned for my well being. which made a lot more sense once i got home and looked at myself in mirror, where i noticed my hair was falling out of my pony tail, i had frosting on my face, and my arms were covered in chocolate.

hey, i could be covered in worse.

actually, i am pleased to say everything came out great, even if i did happen to burn the first attempt at the chocolate torte. after making 24 pies, 70 cupcakes, frosting, 120 biscotti, and a (non burnt) large chocolate torte, my job was complete.  that is by far the most i have ever made in my life! the chef said everything was enjoyed on the big day, and i even got offered a job to do the Christmas baking! just call me Head Baker Julia...

the pumpkin walnut biscotti dipped in chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate i made. a must for any Thanksgiving coffee drink :)

my thanksgiving was a bit nontraditional this year, in that i ran a 5 mile turkey trot and then got together with just my cousin, where the start of the meal was grapenuts.  that might sound weird to you, but for us, it was the perfect holiday!

bridget is my younger cousin, but is more like my sister/best friend. i am SO thankful for her in my life, and honestly don't know what i would do without her! therefore, it was very fitting to spend the day dedicated to thankfulness with her :)

and we celebrated by indulging in all our favorite traditions! grapenuts is an inside joke that was started years and year ago, but basically it's our favorite food and we put it on everything. so, we started the day with yogurt, strawberries, and grapenuts, a meal that can't be beat!

the day was spent doing all of our favorite traditions, like taking pictures, playing dog monopoly, and dancing around like goons. 

eventually we got very hungry and made our other traditional meal-brownie sundaes. we do not hold back on these, and add everything and anything to make them the best! 

this delicious creation would be a brownie (taken out of the oven early so it was still gooey, obvioulsy), half ben and jerry's phish food ice cream and half cookies and cream ice cream, crushed sugar cone, chocolate coated candy pieces, chocolate chips, a cherry, whipped cream, and grapenuts! i absolutely enjoyed every bite!

that would be me, holding up the grapenuts box rafiki style while singing "the circle of life" yes, we love grapenuts that much
needless to say my thanksgiving this year was very out of the ordinary, from baking for a huge crowd, to never actually eating any turkey or stuffing (i don't like either....seriously, give me ice cream for every meal.)

what was YOURS like?

*also!!! i am now just like every other person on the planet and have an iphone, and clearly the first app i downloaded was instagram. follow me!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Taste of Fall

Hey friends!

it's been a while! i hope you are all enjoying fall-i know i am! since it's been a hot minute since i've last written, i thought i'd give you a quick slide show of my fall so far!

most of my days are spent at the bakery i work at, and i could not ask for a better job! nothing beats being surrounded by freshly baked treats!

we are located right on the ocean-this view was taken from our porch.  for a while i was getting up at 4:30am to make it to the bakery for 5:30 in order to bake everything and open up the shop. many people have asked me why on earth i do that, but isn't this sunrise enough of an answer?!

i've also enjoyed forming friendships with the regulars.  i know most of the people who come in in the morning by name, and love chatting with them, sharing stories, and learning about their lives.     i even got a job doing the baking for Thanksgiving morning at an inn one of my new friends cooks at!
One night, after a long day at the bakery, i was at home and feeling quite bored. i (being the awesome person i am) settled on tossing kettle corn into the air and trying to catch it in my mouth. eventually i grew tired of that game and called to luke to tell him about how his super cool girlfriend now had a stomach ache from too much kettle corn, to which he replied "well come downstairs then. i'll bring you to get ice cream!" i ran down the stairs, opened the door, and there he was! he had decided spur of the moment to surprise me so drove up when he got out of work! "get your coat, i'm taking you for ice cream!" he said. 

i was so shocked! no one has ever surprised me before! my night quickly took an upturn and i felt like the luckiest girl as i ate my favorite ice cream flavor ever, pumpkin oreo.  i had tried this new flavor a couple weeks before, and hadn't stopped talking about it. actually, i am still talking about it, a month later.  pumpkin oreo ice cream?!? sent straight from the heavens, i am telling you.

as if i wasn't already convinced i was dating the best guy in the world, the next day i came home to what you see below. while i was at work he took the time to cook me dinner! and this is huge, because before this meal, he had never cooked a meal before. ever. in fact, he once tried to make easy mac in the microwave and forgot to the add the water. he also once made the girl he was babysitting cry because he burnt her popcorn. true stories.

so, the fact that he even attempted anything in the kitchen is awesome enough.  but he took it a step further by making my favorite meal, salmon.  and guess what? he rocked it! he made a delicious salmon salad, and as you can see, took lots of time in the presentation. he explained that he knew i would pick up on how it was displayed, since i'm very into decorating my baked goods, so he wanted to step up to the plate (punny!) oh, and the flowers? yeah, he also got me those. i have NO clue how i get to date this kid, but let's just say i plan on keeping him. sorry, ladies.

some other fun happenings include my best friend from childhood coming to visit, liz! we have known each other since we were 6 and in the same first grade class, but we became best friends in seventh grade when we both had crushes on the game guy.  that guy, of course, was harry potter.  since then we have been through many, many interesting times, from awkward middle school phases (she has some of the most incriminating and embarrassing photos of me known to man kind. and likes to remind me of so ;), to awkward high school phases, and even through awkward college phases even though we went to different colleges.   basically what i am saying is that our awkwardness keeps us together, and what's stronger glue than that?

me and liz the night of our high school senior prom!
she is actually a beautifully talented photographer, and asked if she could photograph me baking for her website. getting to hang out liz, bake something yummy, AND get professional photos?!? sign me up!! i baked a pumpkin pie and then we went out to one of my favorite cafes around to get dinner.  we got the most outrageous mac and cheese ever-it was bursting with goat cheese and roasted red peppers and was insanely delicious.

we came across this sign in the city we ate in. i love finding words of wisdom in random places!
 most recently, i went with a few friends to see my college best friend robyn complete her first half marathon!! as you know, i love a good half marathon and so was pumped to see robyn run hers! she trained much better than i did, and was very diligent and dedicated in preparing for this race.  i actually joined her on a few of her runs, which was super fun! running buddies are the best, am i right? i couldn't wait to see her cross the finish line! i made her a sign saying "robyn runs like a kenyan" and was so proud of her as i saw her coming to the end, looking confident and strong even after 13 miles!

celebratory hugs!! 
i would just like everyone to know that as robyn and i posed for the picture above, she whispered "cupcakes" in my ear, since we have a date to bake some later. clearly, the girl keeps what's important in the forefront of her mind at all times.

we also made friends with the larabar lady who was passing out free samples.  we ran up to her and both said, at the same time, "we LOVE larabars, we eat them all the time!!!" her boss also snapped this pic-i'm pretty sure we'll soon be featured in their new ad campaign. don't worry, i'll hook you all up with the goods ;)

new friends, old friends, baking, celebrating, and overall just absorbing all of this beautiful season while it lasts-my fall has been a good one so far. i hope yours has been as well, and you've eaten as much pumpkin as you can!  i will leave you with this word of wisdom i found at the drugstore, just as a reminder to you all...

indeed it is. savor each bite!