Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Potato Gyros

Every May, the Greek church down the road from CMU has a Greek Food Festival.  It usually coincides with exams.  I remember going with Tracy to celebrate getting through our advanced stat qualifier, after stopping at Phi for a shot.  For years I would get the gyro.  I love the flavors of gyros.  Mostly the tzatziki sauce and the feta.  I would always ask for extra tzatziki.  Now that I am off of meat, I am definitely off of lamb and so I haven't had a gyro for a couple years.  I have since switched over to spanakopita.

Not too long ago, I came across this recipe for a Potato Gyro.  It does not taste exactly like a lamb gyro but it is still delicious.

You start by making the sauce.  Combine grated cucumber (be sure to squeeze the juice out), a minced clove of garlic, some lemon juice, a small container of greek yogurt (I used 0% Fage) and s&p.

Brown up some garlic in olive oil until browned and soft.  The recipe calls for adding raw red onion to the potatoes, but I do not like raw onion, so I cooked it up with the garlic.

Boil the potatoes until soft and then drain them.  Add in the garlic/oil/onion.  Also add in a big chunk of feta, s&p and mash it all up.  My potatoes were a little too dry and so I added in some milk to thin them out a bit.

Soften the pitas in the oven.  Then add on some potatoes, the lettuce (tomato if you like that sort of thing) and a good amount of tzatziki.  So yummy!

So Long!

Friday, February 24, 2012

fresh fridays

Rather tepid week.  No highs or lows, just struggling to get a draft of my thesis finished.

1.  I completely forgot to post this pic. last week.  You may or may not remember me talking about Deeley needing to be all lovey dovey when I do yoga.  She wraps around my leg when I am in a standing position and then I have to transition from the standing position into plank and lower into chaturanga. Then she gets stuck.  And this is what happens.  How funny is that face???

2.  The weather on Wednesday and Thursday was gorgeous this week.  Mid-fifties.  Even some sun.  What a terrific winter.  I grilled outside twice this week.  Unheard of for February.

3.  I am not catholic, but I still like to try and give something up for lent.  I was stumped on what to give up this year.  I wanted to do sweets, but that wasn't going to happen.  If you read my last blog post, you know that I bake when I am stressed, and I have been doing a lot of baking.  My advisor Howard said that he is going to gain 5 lbs during my job search.  I think (know) that Devin feels the same way.  Maybe if I gave up worrying, that would kill two birds with one stone.  I wish that was possible.  I still haven't figured it out.  I haven't consciously given anything up yet.  I would like it to be a non-food related thing.  I have no idea.

4.  The perspective students are here today.  I am going out to dinner with them.  It is always awkward when they ask if I am a first or second year, and I have to say that I am a sixth year.  At least I can also say I will be done this year!!

5. Have you been watching Californication?  Last season was really depressing.  So depressing that I refused to rewatch the episodes before this season started.  I am thrilled that this season is back to being hilarious!  Yes it is on Showtime and yes we order it only for the three months that Californication is on.

6.  Remember last Friday when I said I was going to clean the house all day?  Well that did not happen.  Not even the tiniest bit.  It really needs to be cleaned.  All of our carpets have a layer of kitty fur on top of them.  This is also why I do not have new Deeley/Janey pics for you.  I am too embarrassed for you to see the state of the surface they are being cute on.  Maybe this weekend??  Who knows. I am too busy.  And if I have any free time, I want to spend it doing fun things with Devin (or reading), not cleaning the house.  

7.  Devin really wants to go see (the re-released) Star Wars.  I am not sure how I feel about that.  I might have to take one for the team since I made him see One For The Money.  Maybe I will like it, I did end up liking LOTR.

8.  Tracy at Shutterbean made a list of her Kitchen Essentials.  I am totally on board with numbers 6, 10, 11, and 14.  I absolutely need to get on board with 2-5, 9.  I also find my deep sided baking sheet an essential.  I make all of my oven roasted veggies (read potatoes) on it.

9.  This week's saved recipes: one aaand two.  Every week I save more and more dessert recipes.  It is getting out of hand.

10.  Kate Walsh is my girl crush.  She is stunning.  I hope that my 40s will be as good to me.

11.  I baked some brown sugar blueberry cookies this week.  They are always outstanding.  Make sure that you keep the dough refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before you bake them.  It keeps them nice and fluffy/puffy.

12.  Here are a couple cute ones from yesterday morning.  I love that it is getting light out before 7 am lately!

So Long!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chocolate Chip, Naval Orange Scones

Yes Finally!!

And really they should be called:

Chocolate Chip, Naval Orange Scones; the best thing that I have ever baked!

I first came across Jessica's recipe over at How Sweet It Is for Blood Orange Sugared Scones and I had to make them!  I absolutely loved them!  In fact, I have a batch cooling on the counter right now.  I decided that I wanted to change them up a bit to be orange and chocolate, because that is one of Devin's favorite flavor combos.

Now, I have this problem that when I am stressed, I bake.  It started when I first came to grad school.  I seriously do not think that I was stressed as an undergrad, or at least whatever I was stressed about was kids stuff.  My first year of grad school almost killed me.  And then the quals, oh how awful all of the qualifying exams were.  I was constantly stressed to the max, and so I would bake.  It started out mostly cookies.  Mostly chocolate chip cookies.  I learned how to make biscotti.  There was the occasional brownie or crumb cake.  In the past couple years, I have been getting crazy in the kitchen.  Not really because I have been stressed,  but more because I really love to bake and have been excited to try new, harder things in the kitchen.  Now I make pies (1 pie), galettes, some killer brownies, a salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bar that will melt your face off it is so good, and some fancier cookies (like brown sugar blueberry, toasted coconut toffee chocolate chip, chewy pumpkin chip, etc.) just to name a few things.  The past few months however, I have been more stressed than I have ever been in my life.  And to cope (not well mind you), I have turned to scones.

I do not like scones from a coffee shop. They are hard and dry and need to be soaked in your coffee to even be swallowed.  Homemade scones are not at all like this!  They are soft and fresh and knock your socks off delicious!  They also are not that difficult to make.  I hope that you get to make these, or the blood orange ones, or maybe your own kind.  I think I may try lemon-blueberry at some point in the future.  Yum!

Chocolate Chip, Naval Orange Scones:
3 naval oranges
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
melted butter (about 3 Tablespoons)

Orange Sugar Glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
juice from one orange (use a zested one)

Extra chocolate (for melting)

Instructions (pictures throughout - sorry about the shadows - night time baking):
Heat oven to 425 degrees.  I used a silpat on an airbake cookie sheet, but whatever you have will work just fine, cooking times however are likely to vary.

Start by zesting all three oranges.  

In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup sugar with half of the zest.  Rub it together with your fingers until well combined.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange sugar in a large bowl.

Next, cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients.

This is where I suggest you use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until it forms pea size like pieces.  If you do not have a pastry blender, you can use two forks or even your fingers, but the pastry blender is pretty inexpensive and it saves a lot of time and energy.

Now as best as you can stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, juice from 1/2 a naval orange (use one of your zested ones - eat the other half), 1/2 the remaining zest and the chocolate chips (I used my go to dark chocolate chunks).

The dough will remain pretty unformed (and a little sticky).

It is now up to you to get a little messy.  With your hands (possibly lightly floured), softly knead the dough (in the bowl is easiest) until it forms one big ball.  Try not to overdo it, you do not want to melt the butter with your warm hands.

Then spit the dough in half and place it on a lightly floured surface.  Press the dough out into circles that are about 1 in thick and 7 inches in diameter.  

You can cut your scones however you want.  I cut each disk in half and then cut each half into three triangles (or I did four triangles on tonight's batch).

Put them on your cookie sheet.

Brush with the melted butter.

In that same small bowl rub together the remaining zest and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Then sprinkle it on top of each scone.

If you do triangles the size of mine on an airbake cookie sheet, they take about 13 minutes.  I would start watching around 12, but you may need to go to 14 or 15 minutes.

You want them to be lightly browned on top and a little bit firm when you press on them.  Do not over cook them though, it is better to have them a little under done rather than a little over done. Sorry no pic at this point.

To make the glaze, just combine the powdered sugar, vanilla and juice from one of your zested oranges.  You will have to mix it every couple of minutes until the sugar all dissolves.

Melt your chocolate.  You can use a double boiler, or stick it in the microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring after each one until melted.

Once the scones have cooled for a bit drizzle each one with the orange glaze.  It will soak right it.

Then drizzle each with the melted chocolate.

Finally, eat.them.all.up.immediately!

Keep them in an air tight container and they will remain very fresh for about 3 days. Do not be surprised if they taste better on days two and three.

So Long!

Friday, February 17, 2012

fresh fridays

Happy Weekend & Happy February break to all of you New York teachers and students.

1.  I should be on a plane headed to FLA with my family tomorrow.   There was a ticket with my name on it.  I decided to be responsible and work on finishing my thesis instead of going.  I really really really wish I was going to FLA.  Have fun Dad and Bridget!

2.  I went to Chicago this past Sun - Tues.  It was my first time there and it is a really cool city.  Here are some pics.

3.  When in Chicago, I got to go to Intelligentsia which is one of Devin and my favorite coffee companies.  It was really awesome being there!  I actually went twice because it was right next to the train station. I got an espresso the first time and drank it there.  Then I got a latté to go for the way back to Hyde Park.  I bought espresso beans that were roasted the day before and I bought some of the cups for our at home drinks because I knew Devin would absolutely be in love with them.

P.S. Devin - I need this.

4.  I got home around 8 pm.  Tuesday night.  Not much of a Valentine's Day.  We are going to go out to a nice dinner sometime very soon thanks to my mother-in-law and father-in-law.  I am trying to figure out where to go, so suggestions from Pittsburghers are definitely welcomed.

5.  I am going to spend today cleaning the house.  It.is.a.disaster.  I think Deeley is starting to shed.  Oh man.  I honestly do not think our vacuum can handle it.  I have to clean because…

6.  I think we might get some company sometime in the next few days.  I am very excited! 

7.  I had pizza in Chicago.  I know I may offend some people, but it turns out that I really do not like deep dish (pan)  pizza.  It was like 1000 times more than just way too much crust.

8.  I have no idea how they came up with this list, but there was a list of the Top 10 Colleges That Will Kick Your Butt.  I attend #5, I just interviewed at another one on the list and I will be heading out to a different one on the list in a few weeks.  Hmm.

9.  I still need to post about the scones.  I will try to do it this weekend.  And I also may make some more blood orange scones.

10.  Here are the new recipes I saved this week. One, Two, Three.  Yea, I know they all have a ton of chocolate.  Shhh. Deal.

11.  I am starting the Janet Evanovich series over again.  For one, the movie was so bad that I wanted to read the book again to remember why I loved it in the first place.  Also, after a full day of interviews, all I want to do is read some fiction that will make me laugh.  And finally, reading a good book can really relieve some of the stress/anxiety I am feeling these days.

12.  Devin has off on Monday.  Long Weekend!!  Booyao!!

So Long!

Friday, February 10, 2012

fresh fridays

Hello again.
Welcome to the weekend.  
We have a busy weekend.
Devin has a Butler concert tomorrow night (fun!).
I leave for an interview on Sunday afternoon (fun?).

1. Dinner on Super Bowl Sunday was amazing!  

The game was amazing.  Go Bills!! Giants!!  
The half time show made me very uncomfortable.  Eww.

2. I have spoken quite a bit about my love for the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series.  I have also talked about how I thought they did a horrible job casting for the first movie in the series, One for the Money.  I knew the movie was going to be bad, but I guess I didn't know it was going to be that bad.  Ugh, it was awful.  I didn't laugh once.  All I do is laugh when I read the books.  Disappointing.  Poor Devin.  I owe him pretty big for that one.

3. I often get asked if my hair is naturally wavy/curly.  The answer is yes!  People always seem jealous.  I am really not sure why.  Maybe because it takes me 30 seconds to do it when I get out of the shower.  Mama Pea wrote a great post for all of you curly haired women (or men) about embracing the curl.  I embraced my curl when I was 16 and realized how much easier it was to put a little gel in it and be on my way.  And now that my hair is short, I think it is all sassy and fun.

4.  My obsession with Bob Harper is getting to be a bit much.  It has gone from mild to medium (read huge) pretty quickly.  I just love his personality and attitude.  I have dreams about him training me and totally killing me in the gym Biggest Loser style.  I kind of wish it could happen.    

5.  So I made the donuts.  They were really just like banana muffins.  I liked them.  But they were not spectacular like I was expecting.  Don't worry, spectacular is coming.

6.  I spent this week working on a job talk.  It is finally almost done.  Deeley helped me out.  I am currently calling her fluffernutter.  She is a furry mess.

7.  Yep.  This is Janey watching the puppy bowl. 

 She also does this when hockey is on.  Go Sabres!

8.  Speaking of Sabres.  After the 6-0 victory over the Bruins, I felt the need to wear my Sabres hoodie yesterday.  Plus, it was quite possibly the first time I have seen the Sabres win when they were broadcast on NBCSports (Versus).

9.  I dropped a carton of eggs of the kitchen counter when I got home from grocery shopping this week.  Two survived.  Total bummer.

10. Ok, another blog (my favorite blog) posted this video.  I almost died.

11.  Finally watched MoneyBall.  Very interesting movie.

12.  Alright, so I made some more scones.  But this time,  I made naval orange/dark chocolate chip scones.  We ate them right after I made them and they were amazing.  We ate them the next day and they were quite possibly the best thing that either of us have ever eaten.  Spectacular! Expect the recipe soon.  But here is a little teaser to get you excited.

So Long!

Friday, February 3, 2012

fresh fridays

This week went surprisingly quickly.  I am very glad it is over because it was a stressful one.

Happy Weekend friends!

1.  I have been spending this week writing a thesis chapter and preparing for my next interview.  It is always difficult to get started writing, but really rewarding once I get something done.  Finishing by May is slowly looking possible.

2.  Tuesday, January 31st: High of 61 and mostly sunny.  What??  I walked into Squirrel Hill to meet Devin for lunch and did some writing at the coffee shop like a real hipster.  I truly hope that this is our (mild) winter and it is not snowing in June on my birthday (because that has happened).

3.  Abby is Awesome day - I forgot to talk about this last week.  It is really a very boring story as to how the day was created.  I believe it started in September 2003.  Devin's roommate and bff had a calendar under his bed that started in January 2004.  I decided that on the 28th of January (28 is my number) to write in "Abby is Awesome."  That was sort of the end of it, until January 28th rolled around and Mark (the roommate and bff) decided to celebrate the day.  We celebrated it every year that I was at Fredonia and it still pops up on the calendar even though we haven't done anything for it in 6 years.

This year it fell on a Saturday and I happened to be going out.  Unfortunately it was for a going away party.  I am actively choosing not to accept the fact that these people are actually moving (in a couple short weeks scratch that, they are leaving in exactly one week - so sad).   I made an amazing dessert for this occasion.  Gary is not a fan of sweet desserts, but he recently admitted to liking salty desserts.  I went on a quest and came up with the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.  They are certainly sweet, but the salt in them just puts it over the top.  They were banging and a huge hit at the bar!  Gary liked them, so I considered it a success.  I unfortunately do not have a final pick of the bars.  They got sampled before I remembered to get a pic.  Here is a pre-bake shot.

4.  If you remember last week, I quoted Ron Swanson "when I eat, it is the food that is scared."  Now you get to see it!

5.  Lobster mac n' cheese.  I mostly followed this recipe.  I halved it, substituted veggie broth for white wine and didn't have any tomato paste.  It came out very tasty!

6.   I have been continuing on my quest to drink more water.  It has been going very well.  I sort of just feel better.  People swear by drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, in fact that is the Bob Harper challenge this week (last week was to eat breakfast every morning).  I am giving that a try.  It is sort of tough to get down a full glass of water first thing in the a.m. though.  Here is an article that I saw about some of the surprising benefits of drinking more water.

7.  I absolutely have to make this.

8.  Oh yeah, and this.

9.  I can reply to blog comments now!!   So if you leave me a comment, expect a response!!

10.  I added a new page on the blog called "Staples."   Check it out.

11.  The new Thundercat album is my new album of choice.  It always cheers me up.  Especially this silly song.

12.  Making Chicken Finger Subs for the superbowl.  Boom.

*oh and don't forget the puppy bowl.
** oh and go giants!

So Long!