Cooking for Love

Not beating myself up again for being a terrible blogger…
It was a super busy weekend, with my parents birthdays and my friend’s “Tree Trimming Party” (aka drink festive drinks). I’ve been flexing my cooking muscles a lot more lately, as well as my entertaining charm. So here’s a quick wrap up of all the tasty things on the menu last weekend, as well as my tweaks & how I tried to ruin them. (Forgot to take a single picture, but I was BUSY!)
Friday was the tree party, and I had a hankering for angel food cake. I used Alton Brown’s recipe, which was exceptionally simple, even for a first-time-from-scratch-er. My mistake: with the flour sifting/folding technique, I assumed that I didn’t have to check the bottom of my glass mixing bowl for sneaky unmixed flour bits. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After pouring out about 2/3 of the batter into the pan, I noticed the un-incorporated bits & quickly folded them in. It definitely didn’t ruin the cake, but I think it turned out at least an inch shorter than expected. My tweak: I skipped the orange extract in favor of vanilla because I knew I would be making a super citrus-y glaze. Orange marmalade glaze: 1.5c Smucker’s Orange Marmalade, 1c powdered sugar, whipped until runny. The entire cake disappeared in 18 hours. My taste rating: 4/5 stars. Next time I’ll probably add a splash of lemon juice to the glaze to bring back some of the citrus vibes.
Saturday was my dad’s surprise birthday dinner. His wife asked me to make a dish I made for them back in July that was a huge hit. That day I was cooking for the 3 of us, and Saturday, I was presuming 8. The recipe I used was easy enough to double, but I was also trying to account for vegetarians and non-shrimp eaters. My mistake: when I was shopping for shrimp, I forgot to get the peeled & deveined. I owe my brother in law Jon a debt of gratitude for stepping in and helping me accomplish the task in a somewhat reasonable amount of time. It did make Brandon’s chicken a little cold, but all things considered, I’d say it turned out pretty tasty. My tweaks: canned artichoke hearts instead of frozen (way easier to grab & quarter); smaller, bite sized shrimp, store bought pesto. One of these days I’ll take the time to make my own pesto, but there’s a brand I can grab off the shelf that’s pretty good, and a huge time-saver for me. My taste rating: (first time was 4/5 stars), this time 3/5. Cooking this recipe en mass really killed the charm. At least for me. I think everyone enjoyed it still, but I will keep comparing it to the first time.
Sunday was birthday brunch for my mom. This was an exceptionally fun event because I wasn’t the only cook. My brother who works at a small farm near Dayton brought a medley of root vegetables, with peppers, onions, eggs, etc. for a zesty skillet that was pretty dang spectacular. I knew Brandon wouldn’t be able to eat the eggs (aside from the fact that he didn’t like most of the vegetables, either) so I decided to show off my new favorite pancake recipe. Bridget isn’t kidding when she says that this recipe is highly customizable. My tweaks: 2 parts wheat flour/1 part all purpose, 1tsp cinnamon (I think it enhances the wheat flavor), I used skim milk & lemon juice rather than buttermilk. Last time I didn’t even have baking soda, so I added extra baking powder & butter, and egg beaters since I didn’t have any real eggs. Both times this recipe turned out amazing. My previous experience with the recipe also included home made strawberry jam, but since that’s a shortage this time of year, I made a strawberry syrup from this recipe. I had frozen strawberries, but no orange to zest, so I just added 3Tbsp orange juice (‘fresh’, ha! Try Tropicana from the grocery). How I almost ruined it: this was totally not my fault. Cooking in a strange kitchen is always a test, and apparently when you turn the range to ‘medium’ heat, it means ‘high’. First couple pancakes got a smidge burnt, but were eaten anyway. They were that good! My taste rating 5/5 stars. Obsessed with these recipes, for sure!
Other highlights of this weekend: Helping Jon pick out his ‘tree’ for the party, hanging out with Christie getting her school supplies/gifts & coercing her into getting a haircut (another funny story for another time), Dad’s reaction to getting a Kindle, finally giving mom the chicken I got for her in Chicago (also back in July) & hanging out with my brother and sister!

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