Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mr. Hogan is twenty-five!

DANG, guess who's a quarter of a century old??? My main squeeze is an old man! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRENDON! I am so glad you were born. Today truly is a day to celebrate! The world would be so lame without you.

I love you to the moon and back and you blow me away with your general awesomeness everyday. I can't believe you're 25. Sometimes you seem so much younger (fart jokes?) and sometimes you are wise beyond your years. This is the eighth birthday of yours to celebrate together. Can you believe it? How you've changed since your wee teen years. Every year you grow and evolve and even though I think I could never love you more, I do. I've fallen harder for you every year. So bring it on. 25 year old Brendon sounds sexy.

You're the best, and you deserve a crown (bitch). Happy birthday Mr. Hogan.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 8 - zucchini carrot cake

Have you ever had carrot cake? Who hasn't really? Aside from myself. I'm not sure if I have ever tried it. I think I've stayed away because I used to despise carrots and I'm still not a huge fan of them unless they're cooked to the point where they don't taste like carrots anymore. Soft and smooshy please! But the idea of carrot cake is interesting and appealing to me these days. A dessert with veggies in it? Two birds with one stone, y'all.

This is, as the title gives away, a zucchini and carrot cake. Double the veggies! I found the recipe in a cookbook my momma gave me a few years back, a 25 year collection of recipes from "Women of the Farm Bureau". It was first printed in 1981. Sooo, recipes from the 50's to the 80's? Cool! There are a gazillion recipes in there, most of them winners I'm sure.

The recipes are so simple, nothing fluffy or fancy. Just what you need. Kind of a breath of fresh air since my usual recipes are chock-full of side comments, pictures, and general fluff. Not that I mind, but it was just nice to get back to basics.

Definitely not the most appealing cake batter I've ever made. For once in my baking life I did not try (or pig out on) the batter. Raw carrots, bleh.

It came out pretty dang good! Didn't taste like carrots at all, phew! It's a little like banana bread, I blame that on the cinnamon and probably, the produce. The texture is great, it's nice and moist and still pretty fluffy. And it was a breeze to throw together. Basically a one bowl wonder. Oh and the cream cheese icing? It's awesome. I used butter instead of the margarine in the icing because, well, I don't cook with margarine. But it's good, y'all. I'm bookmarking that puppy.

The strangest thing about this recipe was the actual size of the cake. It called for a 9 inch square pan, something I did not have in my growing bake ware collection. But, after I quick search, I now do. I think this cake would probably be better in a 8 inch square. Or doubled into two 9 inch cakes and stacked. It's pretty thin, which is interesting and doesn't take away from the taste at all, but a little strange visually. Also, how do you store an 9 inch square cake? It was too big to fit in my cake domes, and I refuse to keep cakes in their pans and not ice the sides (that's basically baking blasphemy), so it is living on a cutting board covered with lots of extra glamorous foil. Cute. It's what's inside that counts, right?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quiche on the fly

Do you ever have those days where you feel like you have NOTHING in your kitchen? Like zero food? But it's not at all true because they are cans of beans and cream of mushroom soup hanging out in your pantry. You just don't want creamed beans (how 'bout that phrase? YUM).

That was yesterday. I got home from work and was FAMISHED. Your girl works hard, y'all. I had plans to go grocery shopping with Mr. Hogan that evening (grocery shopping sucks and must be tag teamed) but he had a forgotten pharmacy school dinner to attend, so I was on my own. On my own and hungry without a whole lot of choices. I scoured the kitchen and deduced that there was no combination of food I deemed edible. I hit a low point when I had all the ingredients pulled out for homemade mac and cheese and realized I had no pasta. I almost gave up and ate that can of beans. But I took stock of what I had going on and got serious. I spied a frozen pie crust (don't judge, I swear I can make them from scratch!) and thought, BOOM. QUICHE.

And thus a quiche was born. It's the perfect throw-some-random-stuff-together-and-bake-meal, aka my favorite thing to cook. I had some frozen broccoli, garlic, eggs, and enough cheese to feed a small army laying around my slightly deserted pantry and fridge. So Martha and I teamed up and made this, except I used an obscene amount of garlic instead of onions.

Don't let that cute serving size fool you. I had a second piece.

Not bad for my first quiche. Actually it was really good and I was impressed with myself. Still am. It was fluffy and garlicky and the broccoli was just the right texture. Even my shady pie crust didn't taste the least bit freezer burnt, which is some sort of miracle because that pie crust had been in my freezer for a while.

Moral of the story, impromptu thrown together meal? Success. Quiches have been conquered. Now someone come eat all the leftovers.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Some sunshine with little Greggo

It's the little things you guys, and this cat lives for the little things. If I'm ever down, hanging out with Greg turns my mood around. He's the happiest and sweetest cat in the world, he cannot get or give enough love. Everyone could benefit from being a little more like Greg.

Sometimes I feel like I get a bit too caught up in the bad, a bit too worried about the imperfect things in my life. I forget that I have so much good around me. My life is not perfect, but it is wonderful. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and reevaluate. Refocus. Remember what you have and remember whats important. People and creatures and love and living. Everyday will not always be easy, but if you look for the good it will be easier. And more fun of course! Especially with a Greg. Or with cats in general. I highly recommend cats. Always.

Greg knows how to live the good life. And it doesn't hurt that he's ridiculously good looking. I'm going to try to be a little more like this blue eyed baby.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

DIY Bunting

Bunting. It's everywhere these days. All over the internet like cats. I don't allow myself to get onto Pintrest (we all know I'd be sucked in and disappear for weeks) but I'm sure it's on there. It's cute, it's fun, and it's super easy (and cheap!) to make. I made miles of it for my wedding:

Today as I was swapping out my V-day heart with my St. Patty's Day clovers outside our door I realized outside of that we have zero St. Patty's day decor! It's a brief holiday but still, I love holidays, big and small. Celebrations in general are awesome in my book. So I decided to make some green bunting to hang around the house. And I thought I'd share how to make it. Because it's stupid easy and if you're ever in need of some cute quick decor, bunting is a great solution.

All you need is some sort of card-stock/sturdy paper, a ruler (or if you're good at eyeballing, forget the ruler), scissors, sewing machine/needle and thread, and fabric. I happen to have a plethora of scrap fabric so I just grabbed all my greens. You can buy your own if you're not sitting on a cache of scraps, remnants would be a good and cheap place to start. Any color is cool! Matching is not necessary! I ended up not using that green polka dot print fabric since it was a print and not double sided. Something to consider if your bunting will be seen from both sides.

Make yourself a triangle! My sturdy paper was a flyer we got in the mail, recycle y'all! This will be your pattern. Mine was 6 inches across and 7 inches down, but you can make them whatever size you'd like! Long and skinny triangles or short and fat, you're the boss.

Trace your pattern on your fabric! I folded my fabric in half a whole bunch so when I cut it I was cutting multiples. Don't worry if they're not perfect, perfection is totally overrated in this instance. And in most.

Kick your cat off your stuff and continue with the rest of your fabric until you've got a whole bunch of triangles!

Now sew those suckers together! You can sew them in a pattern or just grab random colors, as I did here. A sewing machine surely speeds things up, but you can totally do this by hand. You just need the corners to be sewn together. If you do have a sewing machine, you can just run a stitch along the top of all of them.

And before you know it, you've got a big ol' strand of bunting! It took me maybe 10 minutes to sew them all together.

I ended up going back and finishing the edge with a wide zig-zag stitch for a little more stability. You could totally sew the whole thing together like this from the start, if I had thought of it earlier I would have. Have a serger? Lucky you, serge them all together!

You could also connect the triangles together with one long ribbon across the top. Perhaps in a contrasting color? I think that would be super cute. Plus, you could leave a long bit of ribbon at each in to tie your bunting to things. Ribbons = bows, y'all.

Hang that nonsense up and get festive! I made a loooong strand. This actually goes a bit farther off to the right. It makes me happy! Our little home is ready for St. Patty's day!

Make some y'all! Or don't, I will never know. But like I said, it's SO easy and incredibly cheap. You could probably throw this together for under five bucks if you had to buy all the materials. And it looks great and is so fun. Baby showers? Birthdays? Christmas (I am shocked I don't have this in christmas colors, obv going down this year)? Or just have some up year round! Why not? The options are endless! Get crafty!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 7 - oatmeal cream pies

This weeks baked treat was picked by Mr. Hogan. I let him decide the treat of the week and he picked oatmeal cream pies! He LOVES those Little Debbie snack things. I can't say I remember what they taste like, but I'm not huge on packed super processed food. That nonsense really isn't allowed in my house. So of course, challenge accepted, lets make some from scratch that blow the fake stuff out of the water.

I used this recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction, which was the first thing that popped up when I googled "oatmeal cream pies". The recipe was simple, had good ingredients, so I went for it. And it was pretty perfect. Way to go Sally.

Channeling my inner Twilight cover what?

This week I had a baking assistant!

John Cena! But really, it was this kid:

These are probably some of the best cookies I've ever made. The cookie part is way good enough to stand on its own. It's a pretty perfect oatmeal cookie, so soft and thick and awesome. The icing is really just... icing on the cookie? Ha! The icing is actually great, creamy and fluffy, and delicious between two cookies. The sandwiches are monstrous and rich and I had one for breakfast this morning.

Brendon and I made these on Valentine's Day after our little feast at home. What did you do for V-day? Anything exciting? I worked for almost 12 hours and Brendon had school all day so we decided to spend a low-key evening at home. We stopped by Central Market and got some ridiculously yummy tuna steaks, portobello mushrooms, and our new favorite German beer (can we just go to Bavaria already?) and cooked us a fancy feast at home. And then made these cookies! Pretty good Valentine's Day if you ask me.

Last night we got fancy and went to Ballet Austin to see the Rite of Spring. It was great! Except that it started at 8 and that's when I'm usually getting in to bed. I was so tired! Matinee performances are probably a better bet for this girl. But regardless we had a blast and I was transported back to my wee stint as a ballerina.

It's been a long long long week that I am ready to see the end of. Coming back to reality after a vacation is always rough, but I came back a little sick (it always works like that doesn't it?) and the antibiotics I'm taking made me feel horrendous for the first few days. You win some you lose some I guess.

And to wrap up the week and this loooong post, because I'm rambling at this point, here is an unflattering picture of me, doing what I do best:

That is why I bake; snacking on cookie dough, cake batter, and icing off of spoons, bowls, and beaters. Also, hello ugly Walmart sweatshirt, I never should have bought you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Enchanted Rock

Half of our reason of going to Fredericksburg was to hike Enchanted Rock. We actually thought about camping there instead of staying at a bed and breakfast in Fredericksburg, but since it is February in Texas we thought we'd be taking too much of a chance of the weather being bad. I'm glad we didn't camp since it was cold and rainy Saturday! We went up to Enchanted Rock Sunday and thankfully the weather was better. Not warm and sunny by any means, but at least there were patches of blue sky and it wasn't raining!

Although we did check the weather before we left, we didn't plan on it being as cold as it was (thanks Texas weather!). So we had  to make an impromptu Walmart run for long johns and a tacky sweatshirt for me (which is actually incredibly comfortable for being $5). We were obviously the most stylish hikers there.

We had never been to Enchanted Rock before, and I really had no idea what to expect. I knew it was a big rock but that was about it. Y'all, it is a BIG ROCK. Actually a couple giant rocks. When we were driving in we came up over a hill and BOOM there it was. It was beautiful.

The hike up was pretty easy, although it is steep at some points (all depending on the route you go of course, I was following Bear Grylls Jr, so we went the hard way I'm sure), but the views... sheesh! I wish the weather had been a little less muggy so the photos would have come out better because you could see for MILES up there!

I apologize in advance for the sheer number of photos I'm about to post. It was really pretty, okay?

One of the perks of being there right after it rained was that there were little streams coming down the rock everywhere! So many little rivers and waterfalls of the clearest water that I'm certain we wouldn't have seen without the recent rain.

Enchanted rock's most fashionable couple award goes to...

It was so pretty. My sister said the same thing, but I'm kind of surprised I'd never been before. My dad used to take us camping all over Texas, and this place is pretty close to home. But I'm glad I hadn't been before because it was so much fun to explore this new place with Brendon! Yet another adventure for the Hogans. We need to go on more! I always forget how much I love hiking and exploring and being outside. I've become such a city slicker (HA)! It is something we should do more often.

And because there's no better time than the present, allow me to introduce the most recent addition to the Hogan family:

My new car. Although this deserves a separate post on its own, one that I'm not quite ready to write yet, the Xterra has unfortunately been forced into retirement. It's a sad thing. But this baby has helped ease the pain a little. She's fancy and new and comes with all sorts of gadgets. We have been calling her the Bat Car or that Bruce Wayne. She's a Nissan Altima, the Xterra's younger, smaller, and more fuel efficient cousin. We love her and it was fun taking her on her first road trip across a little part of Texas. Welcome to the family!

This weekend was perfect and I wish that Brendon and I could spend every weekend going on adventures together. Even small ones. It was a little peek into what life might be like after pharmacy school. Having free time and doing whatever we'd like with it. I am counting down the days.

The rest of our weekend is here and we stayed here.