Thursday, October 31

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah

As it is Halloween, I figured now was as good a time as any for this. After all, Halloween is the one day a year when you can listen to "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah" on repeat if you like and no one can say anything about it. 

Oh how I miss 30 Rock.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 29

New Girl

one. J. Crew Cardigan / two. Mod Cloth tote / three. Warby Parker glasses
four. Mod Cloth dress / five. J. Crew flats

I've always been the kind of girl that would rather wear things already in her closet than go out and buy a cheap costume for Halloween. Not going to lie, I'm a fan of the idea that you get to look (almost) normal out of context, outside of the party. And of course, if you're using things you already own in an interesting and clever way you also get to save money.

This year I decided that if there was to be costume wearing, I would go as Jess Day, Zooey Deschanel's character from New Girl. Jess' style is quirky and easy to replicate. Basically all you need is a pretty dress, cardigan, and contrasting shoes. Add a brown wig or clip in bangs, whatever you need, and/or glasses if you wear them and you're ready to go.

Monday, October 28

Beer-Braised Short Ribs

As previously mentioned, this month's edition of Coastal Living was filled with yummy looking recipes for cooking with beer. I don't usually eat meat aside from turkey, chicken, and the very occasional piece of bacon, but JD does and we had ribs in the freezer and so the adventure that was beer braised short ribs began. On day one we took out the wrong frozen thing and realized it much too late and settled on taco salad. Day two we had the correct meat defrosted and ready to go when I discovered that the can opener had gone on a camping trip. After googling my options I settled on the "spoon method" which didn't work for me, though it did weaken the top of the can a little bit. I ended up poking a hole it in with a screwdriver and was able to pour the broth out. Therefore, I omitted 2 tablespoons of tomato paste from the recipe. That was not happening. 
Ingredients:
3 pounds beef short ribs, trimmed
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 12 ounce bottles of lager beer
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 14.5 ounce can beef broth

How to:
Preheat oven to 350°.
Sprinkle ribs with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Heat oil in a dutch oven or cast iron casserole over medium-high heat. Add ribs to pan and cook for about 8 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove ribs from the pan, reserving the tablespoon of oil in the pan.

Saute onion, celery, and carrots in the hot oil for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and saute for two minutes. Next add the beer, worcestershire sauce, and 1 1/4 cups broth to the pan, and stir to loosen anything from the bottom of the pan. Stir in remaining salt and pepper. 

Return ribs to the pan, turning to coat with sauce mixture and bake, covered, for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until ribs are very tender. 

The next part of the recipe calls for you to remove the ribs, placing them in a serving bowl and making a pan sauce, but I skipped that step and instead decided to serve them straight from the pot. I also added more carrots than called for and served it with noodles and an arugula salad. 

If you'd like to make the pan sauce...
Remove the ribs from the pot and skim the fat from the pan drippings. Whisk together the flour and remaining half cup broth and stir it into the pan drippings. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil until thickened (about a minute). 

The ribs came out so good, full of flavor with the meat falling off the bone. JD thoroughly enjoyed them, as did I, the non-red meat eater. If you have the time, these are worth it. 

Oh and that way to open a can with a spoon? You can find that here. Let me know if you have any luck!

Friday, October 25

Currently Loving

one. j. crew sweater / two. frye boots / three. iphone case / four. mulberry bag / five. madewell skirt

As the air gets colder I find myself reaching for cozy sweaters and boots. I adore the jeweled collar on this sweater from J. Crew. It's just enough embellishment to make things interesting while not being over the top. It would pair nicely with a simple skirt with a bit of texture to it like this marled skirt from Madewell. Add a pair of classic riding boots and a carry all bag and you're good to go. And even though it's Autumn, I can't get enough of this sweet floral phone case. 

Happy Friday everyone, enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 24

Camping, Part 2

One of the things I was weirdly looking forward to on our camping trip was eating the dehydrated food out of bags. I've watched JD pack for many trips over the years and I have always been curious and slightly jealous of the food and snacks he brings with him. He once had a packet, I can't remember what it was exactly, but I'm certain it was dessert, perhaps something to do with cheesecake. I wanted to try it. I also wanted to try the energy gummies. Dreams really do come true, kids! I can check that one off my bucket list. Not only did I get to eat jerk chicken and rice out of a bag, but also creme brulee and coffee, which was weirdly delicious. It sounds so wrong, creme brulee in a bag, but it was really good. The coffee was nice too. Instead of instant it was in a filter inside the bag and you added boiling water. That's how these things seem to go, add boiling water to a bag and voila! Scary, and kind of disgusting, but nice after hiking a couple of miles uphill.

Without further adieu, the last round of photos from our camping trip.

Tuesday, October 22

Prosecco in the Park

Sunday afternoon we took the train to 72nd, picnic basket in hand, and entered the park by the Dakota. From there we walked along the pathway to the ramble and found a secluded spot up on top of a rock, the perfect place to picnic. That is until a family with a safari lens spots you sitting cozy in your fantastic spot and decides that is where they absolutely need to have a photo shoot of their children beating the rock with sticks. The grass is always greener, right? That spot was seriously great though, so we stuck it out and enjoyed our picnic. The park is crowded this time of year, New York is bustling, full of tourists and weekenders coming in to enjoy that famous Autumn in New York feeling. It's pretty great, I can't blame them. The leaves have not yet changed, only a few trees were sporting shades of red and gold, the rest still lush and green. It will be a couple more weeks and we'll have to go back then and hope to catch it. 

Our picnic was kind of a hodge podge. We brought leftovers to snack on, half a sandwich, homemade pizza, a piece of chicken, and a slice of chocolate mousse cake. We also brought some prosecco, thai iced tea, and coffee, which was sipped out of miniature yellow plastic cups. Once the sun started to dip down below the trees and the food was gone we packed up the blanket and navigated down the rock and out of the park.

Monday, October 21

Weekend Happenings

We took this weekend easy. JD battled a cold-allergies kind of thing during the week so we didn't plan for anything too crazy. Saturday morning we got up and put on very similar outfits, half joking that the other should change. We didn't and ended up looking like twins all day.*
We ran a lot of (mostly boring) errands and surprisingly checked everything off of our list pretty quickly. On the way back to the apartment we walked through Washington Square Park. The last time I had been there was that time when we wrote the cat facts on our way home from dinner in the East Village. That feels like such a long time ago. The park was crowded with a lot going on. Near the arch couches were set up for "free conversations". Musicians and a tarot card wizard were set up along the perimeter and the tourists posed for photos in front of the fountain. I took a picture as well. JD was impressed that I managed to get no one in the shot, but you know, other people taking pictures are generally pretty nice about staying out of your shot, except at the Trevi Fountain where I got screamed at in Japanese because this crazy lady wanted her daughter to look like she was standing alone in front of a fountain with about 500 other people present. Things that are never going to happen for four-hundred, please.
Yesterday, Sunday, we slept in and made cinnamon raisin challah bread french toast. In the afternoon we packed a picnic and went up to Central Park to take pictures of the leaves but they hadn't turned yet. I think we're still a few weeks out. A few years ago we timed it perfectly (see for yourself here and here). It was the end of November, which seems a bit late but it's tricky to tell with the weather. Last year we were a week late, too many trees were already bare. I have no problem going back again and again to visit and wait. We found the perfect picnic spot up on a rock in the ramble. Photos from the park will be up tomorrow. 

Last night we went to see ASSSSCAT, which was great as always. It's the kind of thing you walk out of wishing you were a thousand times more clever. Aidy Bryant (of SNL) stopped in, Wyatt Cenac (formerly of The Daily Show) shared a few stories as the guest monologist, and Neil Casey stole the show. And in tradition, JD and I stopped at Billy's for cupcakes on the way home, one of which I am eating now. They really do make the best chocolate buttercream.

*Upon review JD would like me to clarify that we in absolutely no way planned to wear the same outfit on Saturday, it just happened. 

Friday, October 18

Evergreen

one. Zara scarf
two. Tory Burch riding boots
three. Madewell dress
four. Pour La Victoire tote
five. Hue tights

Green is one of my favorite colors to wear during the cooler months, especially deep evergreen shades like this Madewell dress. I think this dress is lovely, it's something transitional that could be dressed up or down. It would pair perfectly dressed up with black suede pumps and a colorful statement necklace, but can just as easily be dressed down with a plaid scarf and tan leather riding boots. I love this pair from Tory Burch, they're near perfect. Add a simple tote and a pair of tights and you're good to go. I kind of wish I could wear this today. 

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 17

Camping, Part 1

Long story short, we took a lot of pictures while on our camping trip last weekend, so there will be two posts brimming with gorgeous fall foliage instead of one. It's too difficult to pick and choose when it comes to pretty orange leaves. 
This camping trip was my first and I thoroughly enjoyed it, every last moment. In honor of JD's birthday, we went up to the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area and hiked to Pillsbury Lake where we stayed overnight in a lean to. Our original plan had been to stay at Sampson Lake, but we got in a little too late and for my first trip, JD preferred that we not hike in the dark.

Pillsbury Lake was lovely, though I've been told (by JD) that Sampson Lake is prettier. I certainly didn't mind. We had the campground to ourselves until we had just about finished dinner when three girls and their dogs arrived. Their red tick coonhound, Carly, was adorable. She spent a good hour barking and howling at herself as it echoed across the lake, only stopping momentarily to accept bribes to stop. Within seconds her snack would be gone and she was back at it. No wild animals were going to come near us, save for those bold little chipmunks. They welcome people like seagulls at the beach. 

There's more to come of this trip. Look out for part two next week.

Tuesday, October 15

Chocolate Stout Cake

Earlier this month I came across a recipe for a Chocolate Stout Cake in Coastal Living. Shocking, I know. Their October edition had a whole slew of recipes for cooking with beer. Since JD and I have been into brewing our own beers lately, I thought this cake would be perfect for his birthday. I showed him the picture and recipe and that was the end of it. This cake was being made regardless of an occasion. 

The recipe called for three layers in 8" pans, but since I only had two 9" pans, I decided on two, and good thing because the cake ended up being very tall, and heavy, and rich. My stomach hurts just thinking about having a third layer on top. It would definitely be too much. 

For the cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking power
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 12 ounce bottle of stout or dark beer (I used Sam Adams Cream Stout)

To make:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, then gradually add the sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition and stir in the vanilla. 
Combine the flour and next five ingredients and add to butter mixture alternately with the beer. Once mixed, pour the batter into either three greased eight inch pans or two nine inch pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes.
Cool in the pans for about ten minutes and then remove and let them cool completely on wire racks (a plate will work just fine if you don't have wire racks).
Spread the chocolate ganache frosting between the layers of the cake, as well as on top and on the sides. Spread cream cheese frosting on top and garnish with shaved chocolate if you like, and enjoy! 

For the ganache frosting:
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (chip form works great too!)
1 teaspoon vanilla

To make:
Heat cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and refrigerate for two to three hours or until firm.

For the cream cheese frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

To make:
In an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar at low speed until blended. Beat in vanilla. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy. This recipe will make about two cups.

Monday, October 14

Long Weekend

Long weekends are wonderful, aren't they?

On Friday I spent most of the day baking a birthday chocolate stout birthday cake for JD. He turned twenty-seven on Saturday and we went camping to celebrate. Saturday morning we loaded the car and drove up to Speculator, NY to hike and camp in the West Canada Lake region of the Adirondacks. It was absolutely beautiful up there. We got lucky with the leaves, about half of them had already fallen, but the ones that remained on the trees were gorgeous shades of red, orange, and yellow. We got home last night after a long drive, it felt like we were in the car all day even though we made good time. I haven't touched my camera since we got back so I will need to go through my pictures and sort them. 
It was such a great trip. I can't wait to share more about it, once I get through the pictures. I'm also planning to share the chocolate stout cake recipe, it's a good one!

Now I'm off to enjoy the last of this three day weekend with JD!

Wednesday, October 9

Dressed Up

one. Alice by Temperley dress two. Kate Spade earrings three. McQ-Alexander McQueen clutch 
- four. Butter London nail polish in "Champers" five. J. Crew heels 

Lately I have been in casual mode when it comes to dressing. Light sweaters, jeans, and flats have become my Autumn uniform. But as a girl who loves to dress up, it's something I've been missing. I usually don't need an occasion to wear a dress, but for this lovely burgundy Alice by Temperley number I think I'd need to find one. I am in love with the black lace sleeves and back, as well as the feminine fluted skirt. This McQ-Alexander McQueen clutch would be absolutely perfect. I love the embellished metal corners. And for the finishing touches, simple pumps, pretty earrings, and shimmery nail polish.

Tuesday, October 8

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Sunday evening JD and I sat around brainstorming chicken dishes we could make for dinner since we had taken some out to defrost earlier in the day. We didn't feel like roasting it with rosemary and potatoes, or whisking up a bourbon pecan sauce, our usual go to recipes. After consulting the internet, JD came across a recipe for buttermilk fried chicken that sounded pretty simple and delicious and like something we haven't done in a while. Plus, all we would need to pick up from the store was a carton of buttermilk. Done. 

The chicken came out perfect, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and full of flavor. We did however modify the recipe slightly. We used smoked paprika which is a little spicier, 1/2 an onion instead of a whole one, and skipped the garlic and onion salts for garlic powder and regular salt.

Ingredients:
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs - thyme, parsley, tarragon (or one teaspoon of each, dried.)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
2 cups of canola oil

How to make:
Soak chicken in buttermilk with onions, herbs, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. It is recommended that you leave it for at least eight hours and up to two days, however we only soaked it for an hour or two. Next time we will let it sit overnight for more flavor.

In a plastic container (one with a top) mix flour with remaining seasonings. And in the meantime heat up 2 cups of oil in a large cast iron skillet on medium heat. Once a pinch of flour can be dropped in the oil and sizzle you are ready to fry. 

Remove the chicken from the marinade, leaving the some of herbs stuck to it and place in the flour mixture. Place the lid on and shake until the chicken is completely coated. Then carefully add the chicken to the hot oil and fry on one side for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown, then use a pair of tongs to turn the pieces over and fry for another 12-15, until they are golden brown. Once finished use the tongs to remove the chicken from the oil and place on paper towel lined plate or on a rack over a broiling pan to let the excess oil drain. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Monday, October 7

Pumpkin Patch


Every year, Autumn, I look forward to one thing the most. That one thing would be going pumpkin picking with my pumpkin, JD. We usually wait until October is nearing it's end before we hop in the car and head out East, last year and the year before I believe it was a weekend before Halloween. We sure were cutting it close, but by then the pumpkin patches are less crowded. This year we went very early, for us at least. So much so that we found our perfect pumpkins and picked them off of the vines within ten minutes. It was almost disappointing in a strange way, completing the hunt so quickly. But it was also good because the other pumpkin pickers did not venture very far into the patch and turned their pumpkin filled wagons around quickly.

We lingered, wandering further into the patch and tried to find a pretty white pumpkin to take home but they were all much too big. They're so pretty and different. I can't say I've seen them in the area before. This was the first year they were growing in the patch we go to.  We ended up with two decent sized pumpkins, a step up from last year when our strategy was "the biggest one you can carry", and a small one for the table.