Friday, July 22, 2011

I should probably catch you up...

So in my prolonged absence, lots and lots has happened!

Let's start the weekend of the 8th, 9th and 10th. 

So on the 8th, Friday, I left work and headed to Miranda's house to pick up a table for the next day's Stella and Dot  jewelry party.  I figured it would be a quick visit.  But to be honest, after you climb the stairs to a 5th floor walkup, it's just not right to stay for less than an hour or two.  So I did.  And then Miranda started talking about Outback and how badly she wanted it.  AAAAAAnd so we went.  SO SO GOOD!  And by the way?  One of the most reasonably priced meals I've had in NYC I think ever.  Granted we did not drink, but I had a fillet, a delish salad and half of a piece of carrot cake.  Mmm mmm mmm!

So I finally made it home that night and got some food together for the next day.  In hindsight, I should have started the trunk show for Stella and Dot at 6pm, rather than 1.  Only Leah could come at that time, and so Leah, Ana and I sat around and drank and ate SO MUCH FOOD before everybody else could show up after work!  But we had about 8 girls show up and orders are still coming in.  By the way, if you are interested in checking out Stella and Dot, or you want to make a purchase, feel free to visit Ana's website at  When you check out, put the host as Connie, and we'll all win! 

OK, so the food.  You guys.  I made so so so much food!  Which is good because we ate almost all of it!  They kindly left me with about 4 pounds of Nutella fudge to finish.  That's good for the diet.  Ugh.  But Anyway, here's what I made:

These are the Nutella Fudge.  So easy to make.

In a double boiler combine:
1 14oz. can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
8 oz. of good quality bitter sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirradelli)
3 tbsp. peanut butter
1 cup nutella
3 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature, diced
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir in the double boiler until melted and completely combined.  Pour the mixture into an already greased and lined glass pan/dish.  I didn't have any of that fancy parchment or wax or even plastic wrap.  I literally lined my dish with plastic bags.  Sometimes in NYC you have to be scrappy.  The recipe says that after you pour the mixture into the lined dish that you should sprinkle sea salt on it.  Honestly, I would let it harden for 30 minutes or so before doing this.  That way the salt doesn't just sink or melt into the hot fudge.  (speaking of, this would be TO DIE FOR on top of ice cream sundaes before it's cooled.  Yummm).  Then you chop the fudge up into squares and eat!  Just be warned, they are incredibly rich.  Really.  I had 1 piece and was good to go on my sweet tooth for a couple days.  So good though!

These are Cheese Potato Balls.  I took the idea of this recipe and made it my own.  There was a little trial and error with these, so I'll try to give you the best information I can.  The good thing is that these are something you can prepare beforehand and then just put together in about 15 minutes the day of.  So the night before I made mashed potatoes the way I always would.  I peeled and diced maybe 5 or 6 medium sized potatoes, diced them and boiled them until they were cooked through.  I've gotten some crap in the past for using a hand mixer to make mashed potatoes.  So sue me, I like creamy rather than chunky mashed potatoes!  Moving on.  I use unsalted butter, skim milk, garlic powder, parsley, salt, pepper, and onion powder.  I didn't put as much salt in as usual because I figured these would be mixed with Cheddar cheese, and thus would be saltier.  In hindsight, I should have made them normally.  After you make the mashed potatoes, put them in a container and refrigerate them over night.  I also grated a block of cheddar cheese so that it was ready for the next day. 

The next day, I combined the mashed potatoes and shredded cheddar cheese.  I used enough so that you could see the cheddar throughout the potatoes.  This was another mistake.  Use way more cheese than you think you should.  It will keep the balls more moist (ew.  Stop.) and flavorful.  Then I rolled them into balls, and double breaded them.  I dipped them in egg, then in bread crumbs, back in the egg, then back into the bread crumbs.  First I used just regular bread crumbs.  The second batch I used seasoned bread crumbs and they were much much better.  Then you drop them into a pan of hot oil.  I used a combination of olive oil, canola oil and butter to keep the heat even.  Fry them until they are golden brown, then drain them on paper towels and enjoy!  They're delish!

Here we have pasta salad and taco dip.  Both of these are incredibly easy.  As you can see, I couldn't really get to taking a picture of the taco dip before the first plate was mostly gone.  What?  Ana and I were hungry!

The pasta salad is basically just pasta with a light Italian dressing, Genoa salami, Parmesan, provolone, and whatever veggies you have around the house.  Carrots, onions, and peppers are my favorites.  Toss it all together just before you are ready to serve, or the pasta will absorb all of the dressing and it won't taste quite right.

The taco dip is equally as easy.  The nice thing is that this is so easy to make healthier.  All you need is one 12oz. container of sour cream, one 8 oz. block of cream cheese, seasoning and toppings.  If you make the sour cream and cream cheese light, or low fat, or reduced fat, or whatever you are comfortable with, it will still taste just as delish.  Basically the sour cream and cream cheese are for the texture.  You can season it up so that it won't taste any different, and everybody ALWAYS loves this!  My friend Davine from high school stopped by for the trunk show and immediately asked if I had made the dip that she remembered from my high school graduation party... nearly 10 years ago!  She said she had a dream about it the night before!  So this is powerful stuff... use with caution :)

So combine the sour cream and cream cheese.  You can either add a package of taco seasoning to it, or you can make your own seasoning with:

Chili Powder
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder

I didn't have chili powder on hand, but I had adobo (which is kind of a smokey seasoning like chili powder), and so I used that instead.  If you like things a bit spicier you can add more cumin.  But basically I do this to taste whether I use a packet or loose spices.  After you mix this together, spread it onto a dish or into a large pan (it makes a surprising amount.  I had enough for 3 servings on a regular dinner plate).  Top with shredded cheese, lettuce, salsa, black beans, olives, whatever you like.  I've seen it topped with seasoned ground beef for a heartier appetizer.  Your call!

Here we have Crab Rangoons and Sopapilla.  As you can see, I had a tough time keeping up with the Crab Rangoons too!  But the recipe makes quite a bit.

I used about one and a half blocks (about 12 oz.) of cream cheese, and imitation crab for these.  I don't prefer imitation crab.  The real stuff is so good!  But my local grocery store didn't have real crab on hand, and the recipe actually called for imitation.  Generally speaking I like to follow the recipe the way it's written the first time, and make changes after that.  So I went for it.  Combine the crab and cream cheese with some garlic salt and chopped green onions into a thick mixture.  The tough find was wonton wrappers.  If you have a local Asian market you should be OK.  But I was not running down to Chinatown to try to find these puppies.  Oddly, I found them at Wholefoods.  I got almost 50 of them in a package for less than 3 dollars which very nearly turned me on to shopping there.  But not quite.  Anyway, using a little water, you dampen the edges around each wonton and put about 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of the crab mixture into the middle.  Fold the corners in to the middle to make a pocket (like above), or pull the middle of each side of the wonton into the middle to make it a little more traditional looking.  You can also fold them in half.  Place them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with Pam or something similar.  Cook until they are golden brown, and enjoy!  They were fantastic.  I'll make them again.  Hopefully with real crab meat even though the imitation tasted pretty good.

The Sopapilla is a new discovery for me.  And I am officially obsessed.  And it's unbelievably easy to make which makes it a little bit dangerous... 

3 cans of Pillsbury buttered crescent rolls
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese (again, I used a light or reduced fat)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter (I actually didn't need this much)
Cinnamon Sugar

So basically this is what you do.  Take one and a half cans of the crescent rolls and roll them out on an ungreased cookie sheet. 

Combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla (make sure the cream cheese is room temperature or you'll lose your ever loving mind trying to mix this) and spread evenly over the rolled out crescent rolls.  Then roll out and place the last 1 and a half cans of crescent rolls on top of the cream cheese mixture.  Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle a generous amount of Cinnamon sugar onto the top.  This bakes for about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Now, that all sounds pretty good, huh?   There are a couple of things that didn't make it that were originally on the menu.  First was the wrapped pizza roll.  This will probably make an appearance at some point.  But the pizza place I stopped by wouldn't sell me raw pizza dough, and my local place was closed and I didn't have time to get the dough before the day of the event.  This was a blessing in disguise because OMG SO MUCH FOOD!  I would have died. 

The second was... well... just look....

Those are Brie Brains.
 So basically, this was the most expensive thing on the menu.  It is baked brie.  Or.  Sort of baked brie.  It's a round of brie with the rind cut off.  Then you spread out puff pastry, spread jam (I used raspberry) to within an inch of the life edge of the puff pastry.  Place the brie in the middle, and wrap the puff pastry around the brie.  Place the brie on a Pam'd baking sheet with the seams of the puff pastry down.  Bake for about 20 minutes (until golden brown) at about 425 degrees.

It should come out with the brie all melty and delish inside of a flaky puff pastry with just a hint of sweet from the jam.

MINE on the other hand caught fire.


One one hand, my fault.  It's PUFF pastry.  Like it puffs up?  Like toward the heat source of the toaster oven.

On the other hand... I WAS BAKING WITH A FREAKING TOASTER OVEN PEOPLE.  What the crap.  Apparently my oven does not get above 100 degrees at the moment (which means that I could more effectively cook outside today.  Blah.) and so I had no choice but to bake my crab rangoons and the sopapilla and the baked brie in the toaster oven.  The rest came out OK.  But this just didn't work.  So sad.

Anyway, the party went well (don't forget to check out Ana's site!) and we all went out afterwards.  I definitely won a free happy hour that is happening tonight (yay!), and very nearly decked two very annoying girls that were better suited to be performing at Cheetah's in Times Square than patrons at Brother Jimmy's.  But it was great to get out.  And Gia was in town for the party which was nice to finally have her around!

Sunday, Gia and I went to brunch (thanks to Terri!) and then Gia went home.  I basically relaxed the rest of the day.

That week I was on my way to the gym.  I stepped outside and found this:

which grew into this:

and this:

and then I found the source here:

A local Synagogue was on fire.  It turned the entire sky black, and gathered quite a crowd.  What I found interesting was that they didn't try to dispel anyone from gawking.  But it was intense.

Wanna hear something ironic?

After I left the gym, I was walking home and came across this:

That smoke in the middle of the background was an underground electrical fire that was popping and basically causing a big ruckus.  The firefighters on the left and right side of the photo said that they couldn't even go near it. 

It seemed to calm down a bit after about 10 minutes.  I'm not entirely sure what was happening.  But apparently the Upper East Side was burning to bits and pieces last Monday!

Last weekend I went home AGAIN.  If you think I'm over it, you should check out my parents.  The first couple times I went home it was all unicorns and rainbows!  "What do you want for dinner?" "Should we go shopping?" "What do you want to do?" 

This time?

The novelty has clearly worn off.  My mom dropped the car off at the train station the afternoon that I was arriving so I could drive myself home because they had plans to go dancing with friends.


I went to a wedding.  I didn't take pictures.  But I did have a good time. 


The wedding was beautiful, I got to see some people I haven't seen in years which was nice.  Weddings do weird things to your psyche though.  It makes you think you want to get married like NOW.  And especially at home, it seems like everybody is thinking marriage by 22 and has done it by 25.  All of my friends younger siblings were in serious relationships with people they were probably going to marry.  I dreamt about the DJ 3 nights in a row since then.  Weird.  Super weird.

So now it's the weekend again.  I can't believe I failed to update 2 whole weekends.  That's nutty.  I apologize. 

This weekend I have good plans!  Tonight I will be having my happy hour from 7-8:30 when I will leave and bounce on downtown to Ana's friend's band's concert (that's a lot of  's).  Tomorrow I have Salvation Army picking up my box of clothes which means the very last of the cardboard in my house will be GONE!  Yay!!  That only took 2 months.  Then I'm meeting Davine for brunch, and I plan on doing some shopping.  I might just lounge at the park with a book to be honest.  Sunday might have to be shopping day.  I wanted to go to the beach but they are calling for thunderstorms and it looks like everybody has to work.  Shopping would be a nice alternative, especially if I get out in the sun at the park on Saturday.

What are you guys doing?  Any major plans???

I WILL update this early next week... promise!

And just because I've been missing them so, here's a clip from my faves...

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