Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Produce

Lately I have been planning out Chris and my meals for the week. I’ve been trying to reduce the money and time we spend at HEB, so having a full week’s meals done after a single trip to the grocery store seems like a very efficient way to handle this. The trips are very quick when you stick to what’s on you list! Plus, grocery shopping during this time of year is even more fun because of the amazing fruits on sale. Cantaloupes, blueberries, and peaches, oh my!

On Saturday morning I baked up some outstanding Peach Muffins. I had plans to bring them to Jackie’s moving away/early birthday/housewarming party that night and I am a firm believer that muffins should not be limited to the “breakfast only” category. They can/should be eaten at all times of the day and/or night. However, they definitely taste best with coffee, as I affirmed this morning.


And, you should make them too!
Peach Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
2 large ripe peaches - peeled, pitted and diced (FYI, for a nice while-you're-baking snack, peach peels are pretty delish. Or, is that just me?)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tablespoon brown sugar (I actually forgot to do this, but I bet it'd make them nice and crunchy on top.)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin-tin with paper muffin liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder; stir it up. Add applesauce, egg and milk; mix well. Fold in diced peaches. Fill each muffin tin 3/4 up with muffin mix. Sprinkle a little brown sugar onto the top of each uncooked muffin (Don't forget!).
3. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Check muffins regularly after 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm or cool. FYI, our oven is pretty strong, so I took them out after 16 minutes.
(Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com,here.)



Ok, I cannot stop at just one fruity recipe. Thanks to Iowa Girl Eats, and Ericka’s hand-me-down food processor, I’ve concocted a healthy ice-cream alternative. I think I could eat this every day. But I won’t.
Photo from Iowa Girl Eats


Take a frozen banana and break it into 4-5 pieces. Put it in your food processor. Then take a handful of blueberries (she used frozen, but it worked great with the fresh ones I had). Then you processes it. Like… until it’s smooth. Then blop it into a bowl and eat it. Looks like ice cream, right? I am going to try it with a peaches, and strawberries and maybe mangos too. Soo yummy!

Ok, last one, I promise.

Last night after volleyball I made Whole Foods’ Grilled Caprese Salad. Cherry tomatoes are only $0.99 at Sprouts right now. Get ‘em while you can!

Grilled Caprese Salad
1 package of cherry tomatoes
1 8oz tub of fresh mozzarella balls. I picked the second-to-smallest ones they had.
1 chunk of tasty bread. I used the $0.99 loaf from Whole Foods. Only the best for my friends.
1 heaping handful of fresh basil. Maybe you are lucky and didn't kill your basil plant. Or maybe you have a friend who still has one (thanks Jaime!)? No plants and no friends? Wait until this weekend and get some from the Farmers Market. Then make friends with the basil farmers.
10-15 wooden skewers. Soak them in water for about 15 minutes. You can also use metal ones, but I didn't know where those were.
Sea salt to taste (extra for Natalie)
3-4 tbsp balsamic vinegar. If you're taking this outside, please make sure to securely tighten the lid to the bottle. Yeah... now our cooler smalls all balsamicy.

Right, so once the skewers are soaked in the sink, make the little kabobs. Mine went: tomato, bread, cheese, tomato, bread, cheese, tomato. Then I txted Jaime to remind her to bring me some basil to vballs.

To be completely honest, my kabobs sat outside in 100 degree weather for about two hours before we grilled them. By the time we finished playing, the mozzarella balls were already all mushy and not round. Fail. But, I persevered through it, and just put everything on some foil on the grill and cooked it for about four minutes. By that point, the bread was nice and toasty, the tomatoes were a little bit roasty, and the cheese was 100% melted. However, since my friends are never opposed to finger food, I just dumped all of it in a big pan, covered it in torn up fresh basil, and sprinkled some balsamic on top. Great success!


I signed up to bring Caprese Salad to our work potluck tomorrow. I'm going to try the tooth-pick style, like this. and hopefully it turns out delicious and darling.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Birthdays, Beer, and Beets

So, today is Kimber’s birthday. Yesterday was Sarah Mann’s birthday. Friday is Leslie’s birthday. Last week was Ericka’s birthday. What’s the deal moms and dads? Is late June is just the time to have your babies?

However, if today weren’t Kimber’s birthday party, I’d totally go to Draught House to celebrate the Austin Beer Guide’s Summer Issue. Or, more specifically, the fact that I just learned of the Austin Beer Guide. It’s a 49 page advertisement/guide to Austin brews, pubs, and brew pubs. Hopefully Specs has a copy so I don’t have to print out all 49 pages. Check it out here.

In other news
• Last night I attempted a new recipe. Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese.
Not my photo, but my version did look just like this one.

So, I’ve never cooked with Beets, but I have liked them ever since trying the Beet Salad at Cinzetti's. So I saw this recipe and thought… simple enough...let’s give it a shot. The end result was delicious. Chris, however, was not a fan. I told him to go out of town and I would make it again.

• Lauren came in town this past weekend. We journeyed all over the city to hit up some favorite Austin spots (East Side Showroom, Sno Beach, Salt Lick, the Round Rock Express, Taco Deli, IKEA). On Sunday, we toured the Inner Space Caverns. I was hesitant to pay the $17 admission, but it turned out to be well worth it. I love caves. So cool.

• While she was here, we also made these:


Do you know what it is? Maybe if I sing it will help you guess? Duh duh duh DUN de DUH dun de DUH. No, that didn’t help? Hehehehe. We made Death Star Cookies!


Chris and I have decided to go to Houston over the Fourth of July so this coming weekend should be back to a normal blend of relaxation, socialization, and… chores.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Poor Chris

His team lost last night.

oh, then this happened.


Seriously Vancouver, seriously?!?!?! Saaad.

Meanwhile, I made a bird painting!

My friends and I had bought Groupons to the Cordovan Art School. We made a watercolor and collage style painting.

and when I got home I watched some of this:

and read some of this:

I think I'll do some more of the later two things tonight too. Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Playoff Season!

I first mentioned one of my favorite blogs, Football vs. Girlfriend this past fall during football season, when much like that blogger, my boyfriend was glued to the television during every game. It wasn’t just on weekends, the geniuses over at the NFL figured out a way to drag football games from Thursdays-Mondays. Nearly every night there was something to watch.

So, football season has long passed, but that doesn’t mean my boyfriend is done watching television. Right when one sport ends, another starts up. Sometimes they even overlap!

This weekend we watched the UT baseball team beat Arizona State University to make their way to the College World Series in Omaha. Don’t get me wrong, I love baseball. I grew up in a baseball loving, softball playing family, so it’s always been my sport. And UT is a fun team to watch, so hook ‘em horns!

Sunday night I also watched the first period of the NBA finals. I have never really liked basketball, but GQ filled me in on the Lebron drama, so yeehaw Mavs. And yes, I left after the 1st period to go home and watch Scott Pilgrim v. the World.
(my favorite scene in the movie, sooo true.)


This past week or so has also been Chris’s version of the Superbowl, Olympics, NBA finals, World Series, World Cup, etc. etc. all combined. The Stanley Cup Finals. I’ve shut myself up in the office a dozen or so times in the past two weeks to escape his passionate viewing of the NHL playoffs. I tried to watch a game or so with him, but his profane screaming is seriously too much for me to handle.
(This is not Chris, but it sort of looks like Jason Segal. Maybe?)


Luckily, we have a futon in the office upstairs, so I’ve been really busy watching so many movies!
In addition to Scott Pilgrim, which was surprisingly entertaining, these past few weeks I’ve watched:
No Strings Attached
Burlesque
Nowhere Boy
Love and Other Drugs
Babel
Taking Woodstock
and
Exit Through the Gift Shop

If you haven’t seen that last one, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a 90ish minute long documentary about street art in the 2000s. It's really interesting to learn a bit about the artists who’ve made a lot of the art I’ve seen recently on the internetz.
Some work from the filmmaker, Banksy.
Banksy Maid. This was painted over in 2008.

Kissing Coppers, on the side of a pub in Brighton. I just read that after being there for 7 years, it's being shipped to the US.

Flower Chucker

I’d say the movie did a lot to open my eyes on the graffiti v. art topic. And in my opinion, this stuff is most definitely art. It kept reminding me about all the cool art around downtown Austin.
The Austin Postcard Mural, on South 1st Street

Jeremiah, The Innocent, off the corner of 21st and Guad.

On South Congress. Always great for engagement photos.

(These are just random people, but thanks anyways Ben Goodkin photography.)


AND, I’m going to be so much more aware street art when I’m traveling this summer. Who knows what I'll see in Cleveland, Portland, and Seattle?!

Excellent.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

music is my boyfriend

I got my ipod-mini as a high school graduation gift in 2005. I LOVED it. It was always clipped to my shorts during work-outs, next to me at the pool, or in my pocket on the airplane. After a year or so, it would only work if it was playing while plugged in, and after unplugging it, I couldn’t push any buttons, or it’d turn off. I would get so frustrated when my music would die just as I was beginning to exercise.
So, eventually I stopped attempting to use it, met Chris, and “borrowed” his ipod touch all the time. Sadly, he had filled it with this seriously emo, anti-pump-it up songs and much to my dismay; he wouldn’t let me change any of the music… Then, one glorious Christmas in 2009 Chris lovingly gave me little maroon Sansa mp3 player. It’s about the size of an ipod shuffle, and holds plenty of fast-paced, pump-it-up music for running. Although it also has a radio, it doesn’t store any playlists, so I am still without any chill music for airplane rides.


I requested an invitation to Google’s Music Beta about a month ago, when they first “tweeted” that it was available. Basically, it’s a cloud music player, which syncs everything between you home computer, work computer, and cell phone. Amazon also has a Cloud Music Player, which doesn’t require an invitation, but does have a max storage capacity (unless you want to pay for more). The Amazon Cloud Player is similar, but only holds 5 GBS (I upgraded to 20 GBS for $.99). Any song you buy on Amazon will automatically go into your Cloud Player, and from there can be quickly downloaded onto any other computer. Amazon also gives out tons of free songs all the time, so I’ve really enjoyed this feature. On Google Music Beta- one of the coolest things it claims to do is save recently played songs or selected albums, artists, or playlists so they’re available when you’re not online. Like… on an airplane!

One of the reasons I never invested in a new ipod was because my phone could also play music. Although I never used this feature, now that I have an HTC Evo Shift, I’d be silly not to sync it with this Google Music system. Because now I can use my phone like an ipod when I’m on the plane. Without any additional fee.

You can request an invitation to Google Music Beta.
Or start using the Amazon Cloud Player.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

totally NOT excited

Chris and I have been really Not Excited for the past few months, anxiously awaiting Ericka’s birthday party this weekend when this HUGE secret would finally come out. Well, as we learned yesterday, Nate sucks at secret keeping so we don’t have to wait any longer. It is time to rejoice. Are you ready readers?



Nate and Ericka are coming to the Gorge too!!!



Yeah!


You can read more about my excitement for The Gorge here, or here.

Since like… March, when the tour was announced, Ericka really wanted to come. She kept asking Nate, who doesn’t really like that sort of music that much. Every time it came up he would either change the subject or ignore it completely. Little did she know he had already bought festival tickets AND plane tickets for them! (Awwwww, what a sneaky husband!)

Labor Dave is going to be SO fun. Especially fun with two more friends coming along!



Thursday, June 2, 2011

JUNE!

I said to my friend this morning, "It will be fall before you know it." Seriously, did May not fly by??

Last weekend was such a perfect balance of relaxation and socialization, that I'm really trying to do that all the time. I get so antsy if I just sit around all day doing nothing. However, if I sit around by myself for 5 hours a day, and then get around 5 hours of social interaction I'm a happy camper!

Anybody want to do some of these fun Austin things?

Friday & Saturday there's FREE ballet at Zilker Park
8:30pm
Ballet Under the Stars
Bring a chair, bring a picnic, bring some wine. Get cultured.

How Austin is this? Free beer tastings at a convenience store!
Sunrise Mini Mart
Friday from 4-6pm

I am going to try and convince Chris to go the Cupcake Smackdown with me.
Free admission, we have never been to the Hops and Grain brewery, and I have really been wanting to go. It says if you want to shoot the cupcake cannon at somebody, you have to bring some cupcakes. Um, okay!

And on top of all that, my book is due back to the library on Monday, plus we have our last soccer game of the season on Friday night.

Should be a good one!