Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Banana Coconut Cream Pie in the Sky

Pie has become one of my favorites to bake AND DEVOUR.

The featured pie is a Banana Coconut Cream Pie.
I found the recipe here.

It all starts out with a trusty Crisco Flaky Single Pie Crust.
I used butter-flavored Crisco, which tastes pretty buttery without the Mike lactose side effects!
My Kitchenaid Mixer did all the mixing work.
I came up with a new way to roll out pie crust: between 2 sheets of plastic wrap! 
This method requires no extra flour, leaving intact the delicate balance of liquid and solid of my pie dough.
And a secret: I do not chill the pie dough before rolling it out. Don't really need to because the plastic wrap makes the dough handling 100x easier--I barely have to touch it!
Final secret: the less the dough is handled/re-shaped/re-rolled, the more flaky it remains.

All the different layers from bottom to top:
1. Crust, as above. Pre-bake in pie dish until golden ~20 min at 375 degrees
2. Sliced bananas sauteed in brown sugar and rum until they have caramelized
3. Coconut custard, thickened with egg yolks and cornstarch
4. Meringue layer, using the leftover egg whites

Notes to self: 
- would suggest to cut the amount of sugar used in this recipe maybe by 3/4 or 2/3 
- I later made a lemon custard as per this recipe using soymilk in place of coconut milk.  I used lemon and vanilla extracts to flavor. Mike ate it as a pudding, claiming utter deliciousness the whole time

Gotta love pie!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wedding Photo Favorites: On the Farm

Another installment of some favorite wedding photos, this time all taken on the farm.
Click on the Wedding Photo tab (above) to see the others!

The farm pictured is Eichner's Farm
Photo credits: Paul Meyer Photography 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pate Chaud

I accidentally bought some ground beef the other day.  You know how it is, that ground beef just takes a tumble into the shopping cart and before you know it, you've paid for it.  At this point, there are very few options...
a) spaghetti and meatballs. again.
b) unseasoned hamburgers on the Foreman Grill.  Oh wait, that was the first time that Mike invited me over to his apartment (6 years ago!). And was it just my imagination or did he not season the meat at all before cooking it?
c) leave it in the freezer until it is frostbitten and turns tan
d) drum. roll.  PATE CHAUD!

Banh Pate Chaud is a Vietnamese meat pie with a French name.  I've always thought of it as a delicacy that can only be found after driving 5 hrs (DC) or flying 5 hrs (LA) to a Vietnamese bakery.  I've also never eaten more than 1 in a sitting because I had to share them and/or ration them over a few days because they are so precious.

3/4 lb ground beef, 2 small onions, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup mushrooms, and 1/2 T ground pepper later...

Oh, and 2 TBSP of fish sauce, too. Don't be scared!

While the pastry shells (I used Pepperridge Farm) were in the 1st phase of baking, I sauteed the beef mixture to brown it a little and minimize food poisoning risk (or so I was hoping).

Note to self: opening the oven frequently, especially to take photos inside, causes the shells to rise suboptimally!

Yummy as lunch, accompanied by J.Crew catalogue.

Here's the recipe!

3/4 lb ground meat (chicken or pork or combinations work well)
2 small onions, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1/4 c woodear mushrooms

Thaw frozen puff pastries. Then pre-bake in oven for about 20 minutes until they rise but before they turn golden. Using a fork, scoop out the soft pastry inside. 
Meanwhile, combine ingredients above to make filling. Sautee until meat is browned.
Fill pastries generously, then replace tops.
Make an egg wash (I beat 1 egg) and brush the tops of pastries.
Bake for 15-20 more minutes until golden brown.

Yield: 18 puff pastries

Thoughts for next time:
I will probably use pastry sheets, rather then the shells. With the sheets, I can cut them to size, then fill them with the raw meat mixture without having to pre-bake them. Thus, I can freeze them in their raw, unbaked state and bake a few at a time when I am ready for a pate chaud feast.

Oldies from 2010 and 2011

I found some old outfits (mostly from wintertime, it seems) that I had initially overlooked!
Hey, I think I kind of like them!  
As noted per post title, these are like from waaay back when I wasn't a powerful (but benevolent) medicine super-senior resident like I am now.

1. Anne Klein coat, grandma cardigan, H&M jeans, Nine West boots, J Crew belt
2. J Crew shirt, thrifted sweater skirt, Paris Hilton boots, Aldo bag, Target necklace
3. H&M shirt (which is now studded), Zara skirt, J Crew belt, trusty ol' leopard flats, Target + H&M necklaces
1. Dress made in Vietnam, shoes from Vietnam, thrifted shell belt
2. Jacket from Gabe's "beau bois" is the brand, LOFT jeans, UO shoes. Scarf is gift from my hubbie.
3. Sweater gift from mom, skirt made in VN, Gap belt, DKNY tights, Paris Hilton boots, D&B bag
Pager is from the dark underbelly of society.

Sweater is a mom hand-me-down, H&M jeans, J Crew belt and coat, shoes from VN 
A "day to night" transition where I shed a sweater skirt in exchange for a sweater!
1. At work: H&M top, skirt is gift from mom from Paris, Paris Hilton boots, Target pearl necklace
2. After work:  sweater from VN, I was wearing leggings all along! (it was cold)

1. ?sweater, Anthropologie "Just So" skirt, J Crew belt, earrings from Charlotte Russe
2. J Crew turtle neck, Old Navy skinny cargos, shoes from VN
3. LOFT cardigan, Charlotte Russe tank top, Old Navy skirt, Steve Madden wedges

1. American Eagle tee, Seven jeans, shoes from VN, J Crew belt
2. grandma sweater, Old Navy tank, James Jeans, ?shoes, F21 purse
3. J Crew shirt, LOFT pants, ?shoes (they are from the same boutique as the shoes from #2)

Conclusions drawn:
- I really like skinny belts, especially that J Crew belt
- heels make the outfit, but I still wear flats the majority of the time


Question: What should you do when your garments/accessories are plain and boring?
Answer: Put studs on them!

I got these iron-on studs from Amazon with a gift card from the wedding. (Shh, don't tell Mike!) My first victim was an old jacket that seems to have a stain near the pocket.  I put to good use the new iron we got via the wedding. The Wedding Iron. And yes, those are pick-ups from a suture kit.  They are also handy when positioning rhinestones on DIY paper goods.  

First I studded the pockets of the jacket.  Then, I studded the collar of an old H&M shirt and decided to embellish the collar of the jacket similarly.  See final product here.

Then I tried to apply this process to my Amish leather purse.  Moral of story: do not iron leather.  I will leave it up to the astute viewers to locate the warped and destroyed sadness that now plagues my purse.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wedding Favorites: the Pilot Episode

I love love love my wedding photos so very much.  I exhausted myself going through them and experienced some photo overload.  This led to a "fast" over the last few weeks.  But now I'm photo hungry again, so a new approach: feature a few favorites every few days, depending on my mood.  Click on the "wedding photo favorites" label to see them all!

1. Ladies, all coordinated in lavender and burgundy.
2. First look
3. Whispering something silly

Photo credits: Paul Meyer Photography (1,2) and my Uncle (3)

Painter Tee Versatility and My New Target Finds

Today, a purchase that topped off the sum of an online purchase to qualify for free shipping gets duly recognized for its versatility, which was initially overlooked.  (Other times, those items get returned to the store after they have served their purpose: to save me $7.95 on shipping.)

My J.Crew painter bateau tee (here in solid hues), which is striped as evident below, earned its stripes last week.  It is made of a comforting textured/slubbed cotton. It felt like an old loved favorite when it first arrived so I decided to keep it :)

Here it is, going to a friend's birthday party:
Jacket: old, I ironed studs on to spice it up--post coming soon!
Skirt: Charlotte Russe
Shoes: Etienne Aigner

Going to dinner with my lady friends:
Skirt: Rue21, oldie!
Shoes: Zara
Here it is with some Target purchases (ponte skirt and suede wedges):

And with Forever 21 ponte pants:

These pants have gold zipper details on the ankle and the back.  Realistically, I will likely never tuck my shirts inside them because it evokes a time of poorer taste in fashion when stretch pants (+/- stirrups) were high-waisted and hair was big and stiff.  But the back zipper is a nice touch, reminiscent of my beloved Pixie pants from J.Crew.  And I love how the gold stands out on top of the blue. Compared to the Pixie pants, the ponte fabric is much less substantial, but still sufficient to wear as pants. If you beg to differ, please speak now or forever hold your peace when I debut these outside of the apartment. I am currently "into" this bright saturated blue. Can't wait to wear this hue head to toe!

I am very happy with my Target purchases! The ponte skirt is so soft and low maintenance. It comes in 9 colors and gets great reviews on the website. The color I purchased is "carmen red", though I could only detect a slight difference in hue between that and "deep berry."  This skirt was a topper purchase to make it to free shipping (shh, don't tell it).  But, especially when paired with the painter tee, it looks so nice and work-appropriate yet with a punch of personality (bright Rrred). Plus, it's so soft I don't want to take it off.  

The suede wedges are surprisingly comfortable and versatile. The only other pair of shoes I got from Target (yellow cutout flats) are so ridiculously worn out after one year.  I think that is a testament to their comfort and frequency worn, rather than quality. 

Last but not least, I also procured my first maxi dress from Target in this purchase (which was made possible by the back to school 20% off discount from last week).  Incidentally, it is also my first one shoulder garment.  I want to brainstorm ways to dress it up vs. down. One thing I do does NOT look good under my slightly over-sized white coat.  So I guess I won't be wearing it to work :-p

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Out of Stamps and Out of My Mind (Thinking About Wedding Food)

I sure gave the US Postal Service some work to do last week: 

And in other news, a straggler wedding DIY item:

Maybe it's all for the best that we can't read the menu very clearly.  I weep at the thought of the food that I did not get to eat at our wedding.  Let me clarify, I did manage to sample every single course, but at suboptimal temperatures, and at the expense of socializing/tearing up the dance floor.  For instance, I missed the flaming desserts while they were ablaze, but did manage to swallow whole like 2 balls of icecream and warm Banana Foster substance.  Similarly, while no one was watching, I poured some cake down my throat, taking care to briefly taste all cake components as they hit my tongue valleculae on their way down (chocolate cake, vanilla cake, delicious buttercream).

Hmm, now I am reminiscing fondly about the wedding soup, hmmm.  My cousin/matron of honor made me eat a bread roll as I visited her table. But THEN, here's the best part: when Mike and I returned home from our honeymoon, we had 3 packed meals still sitting in the fridge representing the 3 entrees we had chosen. Though I selected the filet mignon on my wedding day and only ate a few bites of it, a week after the wedding, I enjoyed parmesan chicken AND crab-stuffed flounder in the comfort of my kitchen.  So why am I weeping and kvetching at all? 

Here's why--I missed the premium bar upgrade I fought so hard for! I only managed to sip a little of my toasting champagne and some zinfandel while waiting in the bridal suite. Waaah, I wish I had a single drink composed of all the premium liquors: a cornucopia of upgraded divine alcoholism. 

I wish I had 4 bride stomachs.  But other than that, our wedding was pretty much a dream come true :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Atop the Roof with my Marco Tagliaferri Bag

A snapshot of life not as a doctor: Last night Mike, our friend Shana and I visited the roof for the first time this summer.  We sipped Lindemans Framboise and waxed poetic about summer BBQ's, life transitions, and the time that our other mutual friend ran over my heel with her car...

Today, I returned to the roof with my camera.  I had a full day of going to the bank, returning some merchandise to Target, purchasing new measuring spoons (finally, I now own a 1/4 tsp--the days of overdoing the Allspice are over!), and...bringing home some $10 shoes from Famous Footwear.

After the wedding, I've spent a considerable amount of time on Photoshop since our wedding photography package included all the raw photos.  Photoshop can do more than my brain and fathom, but at least I know how to use the Auto Curves feature.

I really like how my bag looks sitting by itself on the ledge. I didn't overstuff it today because I actually had to carry it around town.
The rest of my outfit is...
Top: made in Vietnam (by our favorite tailor, of course) off a photo in a Mango catalogue.  I was introduced to Mango when I studied abroad in Madrid.
Jeans: Paris Blues, and they are from at least college if not high school.
Bracelets: purple from J Crew and red from Amish Country! The Amish are stylish.
Shoes: $10 from Famous Footwear :)

This is my favorite picture of the day.

I really like using filters. I should get Instagram but I don't have a smart phone.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Krazy Kolored Pants and My First Peplum Top

I say some pretty self-explanatory things in my blog titles, causing me to have little to say down here in the regular text portion of my blog post.  As a preamble to the colorful pants you are about to witness, I must congratulate Forever 21 for manufacturing pants to my liking. 

1 & 2. I saw these monochromatic outfits on JCrew and decided that I wanted to look like a Blue Man.  Top: Target, Pants: F21, Shoes: UO
3. Top: Ann Taylor, Pants: F21, Shoes: BR (you can't see them!), Belt: JCrew ~ I am missing this belt currently :(
4. Top and Pants: JCrew, Shoes: Steve Madden
Ok, a word about those J Crew pants. They are the Hutton Trench Trouser and, on me, they are 1. too big and 2. wrinkly. Shame. I originally tried them on in a P00 and muffin topped my way out of them unattractively.  This was the first time that J Crew sizing was too small on me. Then I exchanged them for this pair, which was a P2 (I made this choice based on how extremely tight the P00 was around my waist).  The P0 is no longer available otherwise it would seem like the logical sizing, no? Oh well, I will keep these, iron them, always stand up straight, and perhaps wear a thick sweater tucked in with them. Problem solved.

And now, my first peplum top:
1 & 2. Top: Marshall's, Skirt: J Crew No. 2 Pencil in Feather Paisley, Shoes: from Vietnam
3. Skirt: J Crew (No. 1) Pencil in double serge wool
4. Skirt: from Vietnam, Belt: J Crew, Shoes: UO

And in real life, the shirt and new F21 pants are worn to Niagara Falls!
I am wearing my mom's Danskos because it was freezing.
I am also carrying my Benetton purple nylon bag and wearing a thrifted moto jacket.

Shirt: AE, Shoes: Sears, Belt: F21
Ok, in truth, these blue pants are a little big loose around the hips.  But this can be negotiated with a belt and by striking only certain poses and...standing up straight.  I had a brief stint when I thought I would take them in at the hip by hand.  But then visions of muffin-topping deterred me from going through with that operation.
Another iteration of these awesome pants at Niagara Falls. With a UO tee.

These outfits were from BEFORE the wedding.  For that particular week (which was in April or May, I can't remember), I carried my MT bag everywhere:
1 & 2. Dress and Cardi: Ann Taylor Loft, Pants: J Crew pixie, Shoes: Sam Edelman for AE
3 & 4. Tee: UO, Jeans: Seven, Shoes: from Madrid
And that is all...up next, all about the time that we bought way too many bananas and what I baked with them.